We are living in challenging times. We've all experienced so much change in such a short amount of time. Covid has upended our lives in a way few of us could have imagined just a short time ago. With this disruption, we seem to all be craving comfort and familiarity. A place I have always found these things is in my favorite neighborhood restaurant. You know the place. You probably have a favorite room. Maybe even a specific table that you prefer. The place feels good as soon as you walk in. It feels even better when your favorite server greets you with a warm smile. The beautiful plate of food looks up at you as you share this moment with your family, your friends, your colleagues. That first bite, that first sip of wine - you remember why you chose this restaurant. It is a part of your life. A familiar part of your routine. It makes you feel, dare I say it, normal.
As restaurant dining rooms re-open, we are able to go back to our favorite places in search of comfort and familiarity. Sure, it's not exactly the same just yet, but it's still wonderful. In fact, there are parts that may be even better. Tables are spaced farther apart. Reservations are more spaced out to prevent large groups at the front door. There is even new technology being leveraged to help keep us all safe. In an effort to pass fewer things between people, menus are often being viewed on your own cell phone via QR codes. Dining al fresco is where many guests are choosing. Sharing a meal out on the patio as the sun sets and everyone's face glows in the golden hour makes for great memories (and Instagram photos.)
Restaurants are working harder than ever to keep people safe. From even more stringent hand washing standards to face masks and employee temperature checks, restaurants have adapted quickly to ensure their lifeline - guests - continue to frequent their establishments. Your continued health is in a restaurant's best interest. They are going to work to keep you safe.
As you make the decision to go back to restaurants, realize that you are in control. If you are uncomfortable, say something. If you don't like a table or the dish that you chose, let the restaurant know. You may have to wait a little longer to get exactly what you want, but you'll be happy. You will get what you came for. You want that and the restaurant wants that for you because that will bring you back again. Even if only briefly, it may even help you feel normal.
Guest Blogger: Adam Murphy
General Manager, Mon Ami Gabi Bethesda
Networking and connecting with businesses in the community remains critically important. The Chamber is working to bring businesses together to continue growing their network – virtually! We’ll be holding Zoom networking events and seminars every week to continue providing the benefits members have come to expect. Check out our calendar for up-to-date information about upcoming programs and events.
Here’s a peak into last Friday’s Networking at Noon conversation:
Attendees had a chance to introduce themselves and share what services their businesses are currently offering. The discussion shifted to how to best support one another, as well as how to pivot to be successful and generate income during this time.
Some key tips were shared, including:
Two events have been scheduled as a result of this conversation! Join us for:
4/8 @ noon: Top 5 Small and Medium-Sized Business Social Media Tips from IdeaFire Consulting
4/9 @ 4:30 - Virtual Off the Clock + Specialty Cocktail Class with Silver
Let us know if you have any tips on how to help support fellow businesses during this time, or if you have an idea for a seminar topic.
Restaurants have been greatly impacted by the state-wide business closures. The Chamber is encouraging everyone to help support our local restaurants – by ordering takeout or purchasing gift cards to use in the future! To provide additional support to these members, the Chamber pulled together a meeting on 3/26 with our local restaurants and Andrew Friedson, County Councilmember for District 1, to provide some clarification on new regulations and create a space for conversation about the current situation.
Councilmember Friedson provided an update on the $20 million grant program Montgomery County will be launching. The bill passed on Tuesday and, as an emergency legislation, immediately went into effect. The grant can be applied toward any business operating expenses: payroll, debt, rent, etc. About 98% of businesses in Montgomery County should be eligible for a grant.
The county is also launching a program in partnership with Visit Montgomery to provide subsidized hotel rooms for healthcare workers. Hotels can contact Kelly Groff at Visit Montgomery for more information about this program.
Councilmember Friedson encouraged anyone with questions to contact his office; they will help direct businesses on accessing other pools of funding at the state and federal level. **Add his social media firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit our resource page for helpful inks and community updates.
Questions from the call:
If you get one loan/grant, does it affect your ability to qualify or receive another?
No. The county grant program does not limit any other funding or take other funding into account when awarding grants.
Is the grant first come first served? Or will certain amounts be earmarked for different industries and businesses?
It will most likely be first come first served. There may be some tiering and bucketing, but this has not been finalized.
What is the maximum amount a business can receive from the grant program?
The maximum amount a business can receive from the county’s program is $75,000 depending on demonstrated need and losses. The limit through the state’s $175 million plan is $10K.
In other locations, places are buying back unopened alcohol – for example from people that bought preparing for St. Patrick’s Day. Is Montgomery County considering this?
There has been discussion with ABS about buy-backs for unopened liquor.
What information can we take back to our furloughed or laid off employees?
Expedited unemployment – furloughed employees qualify for unemployment insurance and the wait periods are gone. There also is a 4 month extension on unemployment insurance.
SafetyNet programs – $5 million appropriation for healthcare needs, food insecurity, housing/homelessness issues and needs
There is a stay on all evictions – commercial and residential - this order is reassessed and extended every 15 days.
I’ve been having trouble accessing the Maryland unemployment application…
It seems to be a traffic problem – people have suggested accessing the site between 7pm and 7amm when traffic is lower.
My business has been harmed but I don’t have the proof yet; it is going to be a delayed loss. What is the criteria going to be for the grant program?
The Executive branch is working through it, but the county cannot be in the position to pay for prospective losses. Each business applying for a loan/grant will have unique needs and should consider all possible sources of funding. Councilmember Friedson’s office can help businesses navigate access to different programs.
Our Chamber Blog is designed to provide you information about The Chamber, our members, advocacy and legislative updates, and important business tools.