Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were major contributors
Last month was a rough one for the restaurant industry. In September, the U.S. economy lost more jobs than it added for the first time since 2010, the Motley Fool reports. Restaurants were hit the hardest, with a total loss of 105,000 jobs — “the largest one-month decline in the history of the jobs report.”
A major contributor to these losses was the one-two punch of two Category 4 storms: Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas in late August, and Hurricane Irma, which hit the Gulf Coast in mid-September, collectively causing more than $100 million in damage.
Per data from Avero cited by Motley Fool, “restaurants in the Houston metro area suffered a nearly 50 percent collapse in sales the week of Harvey, while Miami and various regions of Florida saw a 25 percent drop in the week of Irma.”
Many restaurants located across the storm-ravaged areas are still in recovery mode and have yet to reopen. While the hurricanes were catastrophic for many independent restaurants, big chains are also feeling the impact: Red Lobster parent company Darden says the hurricanes may have hurt its profits by as much as $5.6 million, while Starbucks was forced to temporarily close more than 1,000 stores when the storms hit.
Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, which was subsequently pummeled by Hurricane Maria, recovery is an even more daunting task: The storm devastated the island’s agriculture, and it may be unable to produce its own food for a year or more. Chef José Andrés quickly jumped in to aid relief efforts, and thus far has served more than 1 million meals in Puerto Rico.
By Whitney Filloon
October 19, 2017
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