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    Tuesday, March 17, 2020 3:35 PM
    During the next few days, 80,000 or more of Iowa’s restaurant and bar workers will likely file for unemployment benefits, predicted the CEO and president of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

    The prediction comes after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday ordered bars, gyms and theaters closed in an effort to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus. Restaurants can stay open but cannot offer dine-in service. Instead, they can offer carryout, drive-thru or delivery service. The closures are in effect through March 31.

    Jessica Dunker of the restaurant association said her members had been bracing for the order. In anticipation of the move, some restaurant owners had begun informing customers of curbside and delivery services.

    However, Dunker said many restaurants will likely opt to close. About 155,000 people are employed by restaurants and bars and more than half will likely file unemployment claims, she said. If her predictions are correct, the number of people collecting unemployment in Iowa will more than double.

    In January, 49,500 people collected unemployment benefits, according to the most current Iowa Workforce Development data. Iowa’s unemployment rate in January was 2.8%.

    Dunker said while she’s concerned about workers, she’s equally worried about how the suspension of on-premise dining will affect businesses. Iowa has more than 6,000 restaurants and bars.

    “If we don’t receive aid packages – not just tax cuts or [Small Business Administration] loans – I think we will lose thousands of our restaurants and bars permanently,” Dunker said. 

    Takeout and delivery options will help generate some revenue for the restaurants but likely won’t cover fixed costs such as mortgage or lease payments and utility and other bills, insurance premiums and tax payments, she said. “The chances of seeing our operators be able financially to open on the other side of this are low. 

    “It is a tough day today.”

    Carl Wertzberger, who is part of a group that operates Gilroy’s, Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Co. and Americana, sent a letter to customers pleading with them to buy gift cards to help the businesses survive.

    “Our governor made the difficult decision to shut our industry down to help the greater good,” Wertzberger wrote. “I pray that it works. Unfortunately, that puts my work family and our livelihoods in an extremely difficult position.”

    Dunker said the group of restaurants with which Wertzberger is affiliated is a “financially viable operation.”

    “Imagine what our rural Iowa places are feeling right now,” she said. “It could be a death blow if we can’t figure out some relief.”

    RELATED STORY: Restaurant association CEO worried pandemic ‘will cause permanent closures’

  • Monday, March 9, 2020 1:52 PM
    Fareway Stores Inc. has opened a Fareway Meat Market and McGonigle’s Kitchen + Catering BBQ in Kansas City, Mo., the Boone-based grocery chain announced. Missouri is the sixth state in which Fareway has operations.

    Friday, March 6, 2020 6:00 AM
    Here are three global business trends to have on your horizon. The first – regarding the economic implications of coronavirus – is timely with current events, while the other two, on sustainability and immigrants in the workforce, are more long-term ideas.

  • Thursday, March 5, 2020 11:36 AM
    As coronavirus and influenza continue to make headlines, the Greater Des Moines Partnership is sharing strategies that businesses and individuals can take to protect the health of the region.

  • Wednesday, March 4, 2020 10:50 AM
    A two-year dream by a Waterloo barber to allow mobile barbering in Iowa is about to come true. 

  • Monday, March 2, 2020 10:39 AM
    Grubhub was effectively chased from the Iowa City-area market more than two years ago when local restaurateurs banded together to launch their own homegrown delivery service, Chomp, in protest of the company doubling service fees.

  • Monday, February 24, 2020 3:27 PM
    The Gordmans locations on the south and east sides of Des Moines will soon be closing their doors. 

    Monday, February 24, 2020 10:03 AM
    Many job applicants are taking a seat at the bargaining table, new research from global staffing firm Robert Half shows. In its newest national survey, more than half of professionals polled (54%) said they tried to negotiate a higher salary with their last employment offer.

    Thursday, February 20, 2020 9:48 AM
    One of the country’s largest privately owned swim schools is expanding into Iowa, opening a facility in late March in an Ankeny strip center.  

    Wednesday, February 19, 2020 3:06 PM

  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020 2:47 PM
    The District at Prairie Trail in Ankeny will regain a state-of-the-art fitness club when Legacy Fitness of Ankeny opens this spring. 

  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020 10:51 AM
    QuikTrip said Monday it is closing four locations around the Des Moines metro area, where according to one expert, competition in the convenience store sector is among the fiercest in the nation. 

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2020 11:15 AM
    Casey’s General Stores Inc. today announced that Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Bill Walljasper will retire later this year. 

  • Monday, February 10, 2020 2:34 PM
    Nebraska Furniture Mart was awarded the 2019 Business of the Year by the Clive Chamber of Commerce. 

    Friday, February 7, 2020 2:53 PM

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