Wisconsin food service industry still feeling COVID impact

The Wisconsin Policy Forum released a report in July that shows job recovery in the state's restaurant and food service industry is still down 9%. In Milwaukee County, it is down 11.8%. 

After educational services, food services and drinking places have the largest employment compared to any other sector; 6-8% of people work in this industry and, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, job losses were at 47%. 

"Pre-pandemic we paid $19.99 for a case of gloves. When the pandemic hit, they went up to $99.99 for a case of gloves, and then we could barely get them because of shortages," said Jill Ruffing, general manager of 600 East Cafe. "Now, two years later, we’re still paying." 

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The Wisconsin Restaurant Association said 40% of Wisconsin Restaurants that did not receive money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants will not stay in business without that funding. Across the state, 5,871 restaurants applied but only 2,095 received any money.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association encourages consumers to continue supporting local restaurants and be patient with potential longer wait times.