Chef Robert Irvine Talks Saving Restaurant Industry: ‘People Need To Come Back To Work But It Has To Be Done Safely’

Chef Robert Irvine, the host of “Restaurant: Impossible,” told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that the restaurant industry is particularly vulnerable during the ongoing coronavirus and will need to reopen soon to prevent potentially unrepairable damage.

“A restaurant, like any other business, has a break-even point and that’s a huge thing when we come into business,” he said during a segment on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“People need to come back to work but it has to be done safely,” he advised per the Daily Wire.

“We are not going back to full 300-seat restaurants,” Irvine clarified, noting new guidelines would have to be in place for any potential reopening. “We have to let the guests know that it’s safe to come into not only the restaurant but the stores at the same time. People are going to be scared, and we don’t know what’s going on.”

He clarified he was not offering any medical advice or guidelines but was coming at the issue with a background in saving restaurants: “I’m not a doctor, [but] I know I want to get back to work. My life is about saving restaurants and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

“[A]ll those mom-and-pop restaurants and mom-and-pop stores need business,” Irvine continued via Fox News. “We need money. That’s the way the world goes around. So let’s start doing it and do it smartly.”

Potential options according to the restaurateur include a gradual or partial reopening.

“Listen to the experts, but also let’s be smart when we say, ‘OK, you can let 50 people in your restaurant over a two-hour period.’ And then you have to adjust everything … We have to lay out [new guidelines] clearly for [guests] so they know what to expect,” he added.

The Daily Wire adds:

The restaurant closures have sent a shockwave well-beyond the food world and into the farming industry. This week, the Associated Press reported that mountains of produce were essentially left to rot in Florida because the farmers had no place to sell it.

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“Thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables grown in Florida are being plowed over or left to rot because farmers can’t sell to restaurants, theme parks or schools nationwide that have closed because of the coronavirus,” reported the outlet. “Other states are having the same issues — agriculture officials say leafy greens in California are being hit especially hard, and dairy farmers in Vermont and Wisconsin say they have had to dump a surplus of milk intended for restaurants.”

Tom Colicchio, a celebrity chef and judge on the competitive cooking show “Top Chef,” also recently commented on the difficulty in keeping restaurants afloat amid the pandemic.

Colicchio said he has been able to provide some help to food service workers and restaurants through the Independent Restaurant Coalition, providing him a clear view of the severity of the problem.

“We started it about three or four weeks ago when we realized the enormity of the problem that we were facing and we knew there was a stimulus package that was going to help small businesses,” Colicchio said per ABC News.

“This is not going to be easy. I still suspect that at least 50% of the restaurants will not get open. Then the problem with that is you’re going to have a lot of vacancies on ground floor spaces,” he said. “Restaurants have become such a part of our culture, even the small local restaurants that we have, and if they’re not there when we come out of this, where are we going to go to celebrate and blow off steam. Where are we going to go together with each other? I’m really, really concerned.”

ABC News reports:

Colicchio said he’s been asked repeatedly when he’s going to open his restaurants again. He said this isn’t the right question to be asking.

“I think the question is when does the public feel confident and feel secure enough to start gathering again with groups of people? It doesn’t really matter when we can open up,” he said. “A lot of restaurants are trying to fill a gap by doing takeout or delivery and that’s really not moving the needle.”