Wisconsin Restaurant Association says 1 in 10 restaurants have permanently closed since Coronavirus began

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Restaurant Association says should local restaurants not receive state or government assistance, more could end up closing their doors for good during the winter.

Roughly 1 in 3 restaurant employees have already been laid off, according to WRA Vice President Susan Quam.

“I don’t think any of us realized that this was going to be stretching well into the fall, now rapidly approaching cold weather winter months,” Quam said.

While Quam says local businesses saw an outpouring of support at the beginning of the pandemic, she says restaurants cannot survive with limited capacity.

“Restaurants are a type of business to where they need to be running at as high of a volume as possible for them to have any kind of ability to make money,” she said. “It’s a very low margin business.”

In Madison, staples like The Old Fashioned are asking through help in a fundraising campaign, while others like the Avenue Club have announced they’ll close temporarily.

“When you’re as low as 25 percent capacity, like we are right now, the cash flow isn’t there,” Quam said.

Elsewhere in Madison, the Brasserie V is seating diners outside for the first time ever.

“We have to think outside the box, we have to think creatively,” said General Manager Josh Ruffin. “This is still a very small restaurant. Our capacity officially is 99 people. We only have 13 tables.”

Still, Ruffin is hopeful devoted customers, online programs, and creative ways to sell will keep the restaurant afloat.

“We pivoted when (Monroe Street) construction happened and figured out how to make that work,” he said. “No matter what happens, I think we’re going to figure out how to make it work.”

Quam says on a statewide level, another round of PPP loans, lasting for 24 weeks instead of 8, are necessary to support restaurants through the winter. If not, she says as many as one in three could close their doors forever.