Nearly twice as many Richmond restaurants closed this year
Perch, Saison, Kitchen 64, Lady N'Awlins, Salt & Forge …
More than two-dozen local restaurants closed for good in 2022 in what should've been a comeback year for the industry.
- But the tentacles of COVID, coupled with inflation, pushed some operators to the end. And restaurant owners tell Axios they're not out of the woods yet.
Why it matters: Richmond's diverse and award-winning dining scene was a pride of the city, regularly earning RVA national accolades.
- And independent restaurants were such a powerful economic driver for the region that in fall 2019, the state launched a marketing campaign around local restaurants — with plans to kick it into high gear in 2020.
By the numbers: By the end of 2022, 25 independent Richmond restaurants will have closed, according to a tally by Richmond blogger Chad Williams culled from local news reports.
- Last year, it was 14; in 2020, 72 restaurants closed.
Meanwhile, new restaurants have opened every year, but at about half the rate as before the pandemic, per Williams' count.
What's happening: Labor and food costs have been up all year, making it more expensive than ever to run a restaurant. Meanwhile persistent industry staffing challenges have kept many local restaurants from fully returning to their pre-pandemic hours.
Of note: Richmond's food scene was oversaturated by some estimates heading into the pandemic. The highest concentration of restaurants were in the city, away from the population centers in the counties.
- Hybrid and remote work has kept many of those commuters at home at least a couple of days a week.
The good news: Diners are back, and they're spending more money eating out around the holidays, according to the latest report from the National Restaurant Association.
Yes, but: Volume and overall spending isn't fully back to pre-pandemic numbers, according to the same report.
What we're watching: The number of butts in seats in local restaurants; they need to close out the year strong before heading into notoriously slow January and February.
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