Name of expert Jeff Seskin
Title of expert Former President/Managing Member
Name of Organization J&L Restaurants Company
In my search for an expert I went straight to the source. A small business owner
of a community restaurant. The following summary is an account of the
interview. *Note I skipped over the side jokes, the pleasantries and items
discussed that would steer off course a bit to the topic of discussion. Below are
the main points.
Summary of interview
ARAMIS: Thank you for taking the time to meet with me and discuss your
experience coping with the current pandemic. So, what happened exactly?
JEFF: Well, first I want to say thanks for reaching out and I hope that you will be
able to bring more awareness to what is actually happening to our community
businesses. First I would like to say, we have survived through many a
recessions because while dining out may slow down a bit, it doesn't stop. People
now a days preferred to go out to eat for celebrations, family time, or just with the
hustle and bustle of today's world they do not have the time to cook. Plus we
have an outstanding reputation so our revenues never took a big hit. However;
when the first shut down happened in March we were not prepared.
ARAMIS: What was the first thing you did when you listened to the Governor's
order that restaurants would have to shut down all dine in activities?
JEFF: I was in denial for a good 24 hours. I could not believe it. After which I
called my GM and had all the employees on a conference call. I told them this is
just temporary and we will make it through this together. I continued to pay my
employees a quarter of their salary and used them as much as I could with our
carry out operations.
ARAMIS: That was quite generous of you. Can you speak a little more on how
you coped with the following months?
JEFF: Well, as time went on we realized we cannot continue to pay and that we
are just not doing the amount of sales we would like to see. One by one I had to
temporarily lay off my employees. My hope was that they would be able to
collect the enhanced unemployment and that this would be all over by the
ARAMIS: What about the PPP and EIDL assistance from the federal
government? did you apply for those?
JEFF: Yes and we never received a penny.
ARAMIS: Now we know previous to this current lockdown the Governor has
ordered there was a brief period where dine in was allowed but at reduced
capacity. How did you rebound?
JEFF: We did not really "rebound" as you say, we were at reduced capacity and
our chains are all small diner type burger restaurants. Think of Steak N Shake
only smaller. Our mission was to bring a the old age family style close knit
community to our restaurant so we felt a smaller space environment where you
would feel part of a group when you walk into the restaurant was important. This
did not bode well in this pandemic as I am sure you can imagine. It was much
more cost effective for us to stay carry out.
ARAMIS: As you know we are currently on another shut down where a lot of
business have been ordered to close down and dine in experiences have been
stalled again. What do you think of this new order?
JEFF: Quite frankly, this is baloney. If I could say one thing to the Governor it
would be this: How can you expect us to survive when you are forcing us to
close down with no assistance? The federal government is in a pissing match to
see who has the biggest mic and you are in the same pissing match with the
legislature because of silly politics. I see everything that is going on in my
community. I see so many small businesses closing, people who are preparing
because they are so far behind on their rent they know they will be evicted once
the moratorium runs out. I see a worse 2008 situation and it is only the
ARAMIS: Jeff I know this is difficult for you, but can you explain to me what
happened? why is there a for lease sign outside your restaurant?
JEFF: After over 20 years in business, those same employees I told back in
March that we will make it through this, I had to call them all and tell them that
they no longer have a job to come back to. I am shutting my doors.
ARAMIS: What is next for you?
JEFF: Well, if you know someone hiring, then I can give you my resume.
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