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Tom Colicchio appeared on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen on June 18, following the finale of Bravo's Top Chef Season 17. (Click here to find out who the winner was.) While chatting with Andy, the Crafted Hospitality owner shared his thoughts on the future of the restaurant industry in the wake of COVID-19. He didn't candy-coat his prediction.
In the clip above, Andy says: "Tom, you have said that you believe 40 to 50 percent of restaurants are gonna close due to the pandemic and the shutdown. Do you still think that number is correct?" Tom responded with three devastating words: "It's higher, actually."
He continued: "The [James] Beard Foundation did a survey and only 20 percent of the respondents said that they would definitely open up. The Independent Restaurant Coalition of which I'm a co-founder — we've been lobbying the government — we had an independent [financial] study done ... And they believe, without government intervention, 85 percent of the restaurants in this country will shutter."
There is some hope, though. Tom's fellow guest Padma Lakshmi offered a tip for those who want to help. "You can still go Jamesbeard.org/openforgood to either donate or find out other ways you can help to keep restaurants either open for good or reopen."
Tom is also lobbying to get 120 billion dollars from the government to help independent restaurants. "We'll see," he says in the clip. "I am hopeful. I believe that we're making a compelling argument for why 11 million jobs should be saved." He adds: "We add a trillion dollars to the economy. So if you're looking to put stimulus dollars through a particular business ... independent restaurants are probably the best place to put it."
Back in March, Tom took to Instagram to share his sobering plan for his own restaurants amid the pandemic. "Today I’ve made the hardest decision I’ve ever faced in my 40 years in this industry, to temporarily close Craft and our family of restaurants in NYC and L.A as well as our corporate office after dinner service this evening," he wrote.
"Our mission has always been ‘Make People Happy’ but we can no longer do that without jeopardizing the wellbeing of our family of staff, our purveyors, and our guests," he continued. "We will do everything we can to support our employees through this transition and help each other stay safe. For now, we plan to work with local authorities to help our communities get through this crisis."
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