It’s never been easy to make money in the restaurant industry. A highly fragmented sector dominated by 70 percent independent owners and operators, the average restaurant’s annual revenue hovers around $1 million and generates an operating profit of just 4-5 percent. A financially sustainable business model for small independents is often elusive.
So when a crisis of the magnitude of the COVID-19 global pandemic forces restaurants to close, and their revenue drops to zero overnight, things get particularly dire. Unlike the oligopolistic airline industry, where a few large firms can easily band together to lobby for government support, the concerns of restaurant owners and the unique realities and concerns of their industry remain largely unaddressed by government programs designed to help small businesses.