Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Terror Fears Dampen Restaurant Sales

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Terror Fears Dampen Restaurant Sales https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/restaurant0616a.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

Terror has consequences.

Last weekend’s terrorism incidents in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota will likely depress restaurant sales, according to data from Technomic. The firm’s research shows that events like the Orlando nightclub mass shooting, in June, and the slaughter of five Dallas police officers the following month had a clear negative affect on consumer spending at restaurants.

According to Technomic, approximately one in five consumers decreased their dining-out after the Orlando massacre. Eleven percent stayed home and cooked instead of eating out, and 5 percent went the delivery and takeout route.

Similar trends are emerging in Europe, which has been hit very hard by terrorism – in some cases, specifically targeting restaurants – in recent years.

“It’s a catastrophe,” Yannick Alléno, a three-Michelin-star chef at Paris’ Pavillon Ledoyen, told the New York Times. “We try to stay positive and spread the message that Paris is a magical destination like always. Yes, we are at war against terrorists, but the entire world is at war against terrorists.”

Even restaurants that were not directly hit by European terror attacks saw sales declines in the weeks that followed. In Brussels, where terrorists killed 35 people and left hundreds injured, in March, many of the city’s famed chocolate shops experienced a dip in sales preceding the Easter holiday, normally one of their busiest seasons.

“[Terrorism is] creating an atmosphere of anxiety and stress for everyone — the chefs, the owners, the diners,” François-Régis Gaudry, the dining critic for Paris’ L’Express, told the New York Times.

While there’s little restaurants can do to stop the bigger problems that are driving terrorism in the U.S. and abroad, there are practical steps restaurant operators can take to ensure the safety of their guests, employees and property.

According to the Killeen, Tex., police department, restaurants can protect themselves from terrorism by:

  • Establishing security procedures and a threat alert system, including a go-to person or phone number to report suspicious activity,
  • Establishing terrorism training programs for staff,
  • Maintaining an open line of communication with law enforcement,
  • Knowing the delivery vehicles and staff that are routinely on your property,
  • Installing security cameras around the property and facility,
  • Watching for people and actions that are out of place,
  • Making note of suspicious statements, people, items and/or vehicles,
  • Notifying law enforcement if something seems wrong, and
  • Never jeopardizing your safety or the safety of others.

Furthermore, the Killeen police recommend that restaurant operators should keep an eye out for the following possible indicators that a customer may be a suicide bomber:

  • Alone and nervous,
  • Loose and/or bulky clothing,
  • Exposed wires (possibly through a sleeve),
  • Rigid mid-section, and
  • Tightened hands.

Additionally, suicide bombers may use potential props including baby strollers or shopping carts, suspicious bags, backpacks or golf bags.

“The last thing we want to do is start becoming paranoid about people because of what’s happening,” Bill Duggan, owner of the Washington, D.C., bar Madam’s Organ, told WUSA. “Vigilant yes. But paranoid and suspicious, no.”