The current pandemic has exposed many of society’s frailties, and no other sector has been impacted more than the service industry, especially the food and restaurant ecosystem. A lot of us don’t quite understand the fragility of this supply chain, and the sheer size and scope of the impact. In order to understand the magnitude of the problems, I turned to my dear friend Matt Buchanan, who is the executive editor of Eater, a publication devoted to the food industry and its joys. Matt in his past life was a technology writer for a variety of publications including the New Yorker and Buzzfeed, before joining The Awl, a new defunct countercultural publication.
In my opinion, no publication has done a better job of covering the impact of the current crisis on its industry with more empathy and humanness than Eater, without compromising its journalistic high standards. It has become a gold standard of a good industry publication. Matt and his colleagues should be very proud of their work.
In this episode of Stuck@Om my friend Matt points out that there are approximately 12 million jobs in the foodservice industry. Of the nearly 10 million people who’ve now filed for unemployment — many were likely from this sector. Dining rooms across the country are forcefully emptied, leaving many restaurants closing their doors.
Matt believes that takeout and delivery aren’t sufficient to cover the overhead for most restaurants. If they don’t get the help they need, there won’t be a recognizable restaurant industry when we emerge from this pandemic. There may soon be a trickle-down effect as waiters, cooks, busboys, and delivery drivers are laid off. Will farmers be impacted due to a lack of demand? And what about the streak of racism becoming rampant as we see an immense drop in Chinese restaurants being frequented?
There will also be a long-term physical and psychological impact from the Coronavirus. Will people feel comfortable—even safe—returning to restaurants like they used to? We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that feels surreal — how do we humanize the lives being lost if we aren’t directly impacted? These are just a few of the many topics that Matt and I talk about. Listen to hear our full conversation about the resounding economic impact the restaurant industry has in our culture.
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Outline of This Episode
- How restaurants are dealing with the pandemic
- The recession will have continuing effects for months
- How Eater.com has been navigating the Coronavirus
- We must support our local businesses and restaurants
- How do we humanize the lives being lost?
- We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis
- Donate a coffee to medical professionals on the frontlines
- Amazon is pulling back on affiliate deals
- Why local publications will be hit the hardest
- What Matt and I are doing to pass the time
Resources & People Mentioned
- Matt Buchanan on Eater
- John le Carré
- Netflix series ‘Lovesick’
- The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
Connect with Matt Buchannan
Connect With Om
- [Podcast] Stuck@Om with Author, Economist & Columbia School Professor Jeffrey Sachs
- [Podcast] Stuck@Om w/Wired Editor Nick Thompson on the pandemic, its impact on technology and change + why we mistrust media
- Stuck@Om with Herman Narula
- [Podcast] Stuck@Om with Toby Ord, author of The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity.