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Photo: Axios screenshot

José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen and celebrated chef, said during an Axios event that survival of restaurants is a crucial part of the U.S. economic recovery as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the industry.

Why it matters: The hospitality industry has faced an existential crisis since the beginning of the pandemic. "With new rounds of state-mandated restaurant and bar restrictions, and winter weather limiting outdoor dining, food services accounted for 372,000 job losses in December," the Washington Post writes.

  • As of September, 100,000 closed either permanently or long-term, according to the National Restaurant Association.

What he's saying: "You need to remember that the restaurant, every dollar getting in trickles down through the economy ... So restaurants are a hard, complicated business, but when the restaurants function, our cities function better, our rural areas function better," Andrés said.

  • The industry "employs directly millions of people and directly millions more. We are "talking distribution, we are talking farmers," he continued.
  • "We need to make sure that ... the food industry is not an industry that lives on the fringe of almost poverty, but that every American employee, every restaurant worker will make a decent living that will allow them, even in difficult moments like these, to make it through with savings and other forms of protection."
  • "[T]he people that feed America are almost under the poverty level. This is something like fundamentally has to change."

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.

The Twin Cities' wintertime boom

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More signs are emerging that Minnesotans are going all in on all things winter.

Driving the trend: While residents of the "Bold North" have a long tradition of braving the frigid temps, COVID-19 is pushing us outdoors even more.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.