Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to the annual Year in Eater survey will be revealed in several posts. Next up, the dining pros talk about their hopes for the restaurant industry in 2021.
What is your biggest hope for the restaurant industry in 2021?
Sonja Swanson, food and culture writer: I really hope that people get their jobs and their businesses back — working in restaurants is hard, hard work and we only see the tip of the iceberg from our seats in the dining room.
Louiie Victa, Eater Vegas photographer and co-host of Two Sharp Chefs and a Microphone: Restaurants simply won’t exist without customers. All of this rebuilding wouldn’t be possible without customers coming back to enjoy the food scene once again. That’s just the basic equation. So in essence, everyone needs to help everyone else as they rebuild. Support local small businesses because they are hanging by a thin thread. Support in any way you possibly can. Buy food and drink from restaurants, whether you’re dining in or taking it home. Any little bit helps add to the bottomline.
I really hope that more people come out and seek dining experiences rather than takeout in 2021. Because of COVID, fast-casual concepts are thriving, but fine-dining concepts are really suffering. I really hope that the vaccine is effective in squashing COVID and that more people return to work and their normal routine. I just can’t fathom a world without dining rooms or having no ability to share great food with other people. The thought of that is just too scary.
Lorraine Moss, co-host of Two Sharp Chefs and a Microphone: I hope we can survive. And at some point, I pray that we can get back to making profits.
Nina King, Las Vegas Magazine managing editor: Recovery. And, selfishly, I hope that every restaurant puts a new focus on plant-based eating.
Diana Edelman, founder Vegans, Baby: That it is able to come back and rebuild. And also that more of the industry begins to add plant-based options to their menu and experiment with these dishes.
Scott Roeben, Vital Vegas: Let’s see a V-shaped recovery! I predict there’s a lot of pent-up demand for Las Vegas and Las Vegas restaurants, so my hope would be the new year will bring with it a restaurant boom. Nothing’s certain now, but optimism has been a huge part of coping with the seemingly endless supply of bad news in 2020. In 2021, I hope customers will appreciate their favorite places more, and that restaurants will value their customers more in return. One giant hope is we can dig into sorting out the practice of tipping. This custom is dubious because it places the pressure of compensating employees on customers directly. It’s an outdated and unreliable practice, and it doesn’t really do much to improve service. Oh, and another hope of 2021 is that restaurants will be quieter again! That’s been a bright side to lower capacities. The ability to hold a conversation has been refreshing and I hope restaurants do more to turn off TVs, turn down music, and build interiors that absorb sound so guests can do what they value most in restaurants and beyond, connect with others.
Melanie Lee, Eater Vegas: Fewer closures of local favorites. I know that might be wishful thinking but after watching so many family/locally owned spots struggle in 2020, I’d love to see that trend slow down in 2021.
Bob Barnes, editor of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional and Las Vegas writer for Gayot: My biggest hope is that restaurants learn from the pandemic what business practices are efficient to help them survive in the direst situations so they can endure and excel even more once things return to some sort of normalcy.
Ken Miller, editor of Las Vegas Magazine: That when it completely re-emerges, that it continues the safety protocols currently being practiced. We are far from out of the woods regarding COVID, and we just can’t go back to business as usual anymore.
Philip Tzeng, food blogger at Las Vegas Fill: The same as everyone else! A vaccine that works and packed restaurants with talented staff doing what they do best.
Krista Diamond, freelance writer at Eater Vegas: An end to the virus and a series of very, very big parties.
Rob Kachelriess, Las Vegas writer at Thrillist: Unfortunately, 2020 will be remembered as the year America let itself down and failed to meet a common challenge. Instead of rallying around each other, we politicized a virus while leaving people and businesses to fend for themselves, whether on lockdown or forced to operate on a limited basis. I’d like to see a greater mix of compassion and personal responsibility so restaurants and other businesses can thrive. I also hope people leave Twitter and Facebook alone for a while and enjoy the company of real people again. And there’s no better way to do that than over drinks or a great meal.
Susan Stapleton, editor of Eater Vegas: I hope there is more financial relief for restaurants in the near future. This pandemic is nowhere near over, and I hope that restaurants continue to come up with innovative ways to stay afloat while keeping staff and diners safe in the meantime. We’ll be here to tell their stories.
• All Year in Eater Coverage [ELV]