Jan 3, 2022 - Food and Drink

D.C. restaurants brace for COVID challenges in 2022

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Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The pandemic will play a large role in determining what 2022 looks like for restaurants and bars.

The big picture: With a widespread vaccine rollout and months of low COVID case numbers, 2021 was looking up for the food and beverage industry, until D.C.’s late December COVID case spike.

  • “I was very optimistic… up til just a couple of weeks ago. I honestly felt like we would return to a good deal of normalcy in the spring quarter – that’s our biggest time here in Washington,” EatWell DC restaurant group owner David Winer told Axios of his pre-Omicron outlook.

Whats happening: The industry is now bracing for more COVID-related challenges, all while staffing and supply chain issues persist.

  • Winer predicts that takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining will once again become a more prevalent part of restaurants’ business models if Omicron continues to spread across the DMV.
  • More restaurant closures are also likely, he says, if current COVID trends persist.

“There’s truthfully just a boatload of uncertainty,” Winer tells Axios. Overall, the restaurant owner says he’s concerned about the industry heading into 2022.

The bottom line: Unfortunately, the challenges restaurants and bars faced at the end of 2021 will follow them into at least the first few months of the new year.

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