Hospitality industry leaders say more can be done to save jobs

Leaders in Milwaukee's hospitality met on Thursday, Dec. 3 to talk about the impact COVID-19 has had on business. This, after Gov. Tony Evers announced $45 million in assistance for restaurants.

"I think that 30 to 40% of restaurants will close by the end of the winter," said Omar Shaikh.

It is a cold reality freezing over Milwaukee...

"The coffee shops and the bars and restaurants in the city of Milwaukee are what powers our city," said Gary Witt. "And they’ve been ignored by the city and they need to pay a little more attention."

During a Milwaukee Press Club Zoom meeting, three local hospitality leaders expressed their frustration with what they call inconsistent rules pertaining to COVID-19.

"The blame starts at the top of the ladder with our federal government for not understanding the fact if you’re going to ask businesses to sacrifice for their city, state, our country to close their business you should also be providing funding," Witt said.

While local businesses are grateful for Gov. Evers' announcement of money to assist restaurants, owners say it is just a drop in the bucket.

“For us, it covers one month rent and utilities. So it helps, but it doesn’t help long term," Shaikh said.

After having to let go of several employees, Potawatomi is now operating at 40% capacity.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

"We have about 1,000 of our 2,600 employees back working," said Rodney Ferguson.

For the Pabst Theater Group, business is down 88% compared to this time last year. Doors are still closed.

Pabst Theater, Milwaukee

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Many Milwaukee restaurants are down 40% -- and all parties are hoping to open sooner than later.

Those in Thursday's meeting ask anyone who wants to support their cause to call your local representative -- and speak in favor of trying to assist the service industry.

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