Transcript: Restaurant suppliers speak to how the pandemic has changed their businesses

Below you will find the transcript for each audio quote from our feature story from September 28, 2020.

Emily Thompson, 46
Florist, New York City

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We really cherish and insist on using materials that are more unpredictable than some other florists might rely on. That’s one of the reasons our relationships can be so close is ’cause we spent so much time there, in some cases every day. And flowers are very much a luxury, so if people are going to buy them, they’re going to buy the cheap ones from the deli at this point. And it’s definitely the first thing to go from restaurant budgets. It’s been a very emotional experience, but I think that everything that’s been happening during this time has been also so emotionally gutting and difficult to see and experience that in some ways it feels like really small problems.  

Joel McAllister, 46
Linen, Seattle, Washington

We would supply anything from floor mats, kitchen uniforms, bar towels, aprons. A lot of napkins. Basically, the napkin business has dropped 80 percent because people just aren’t using napkins. The fine dining places, a lot of them aren’t opening. Or if they’re opening, they’re just not seating that many people. We had really good volume. Things were growing. Everything was great. And then we lost 90 percent of our revenue. Seattle is so dependent on cruise ships. And they’re not going right now. Hotel occupancy is around between five and ten percent right now in Seattle at most at most hotels. There’s nobody in Seattle.  

John Kostelac, 70
Grease recycler, Saint Louis area

Well, we got roughly about 4,000 places that we picked the grease from probably 90 percent of ’em are restaurants. We have a lot of schools, but it seems like with the health-consciousness, schools don’t fry anymore so they don’t produce the grease like they used to. Same as hospitals. Hospitals don’t fry like they used to because, you know, the patients can’t eat greasy foods like a French fry. I know it’s dirty. People, you know, can’t understand how we can stand the smell of it, but it’s really not that bad. And it’s been very financially rewarding for us too.  

Joel Grassi
Exterminator, New York City

Some clients have been with us a long, long time and did not make it. What makes New York City New York City is its restaurant culture. And we’re watching it vanish in front of our eyes. You know, like a lot of businesses we’re trying to hold our own. What pest control is so much about is quality of life. Like no one is having a good quality of life if there are pests in their restaurant or home. And so, you know, it’s kind of like our mission is to, you know, continue to serve our community and serve New York City by providing quality of life. You can’t really prepare for this. You know, there’s no preparation. I think everyone knows that. But at the same time, you know, God willing, tomorrow’s another day. You got to get up and keep going. 

Lance Crawford, 52
Food Vendor, Las Vegas, Nevada

You have a casino that’s supposed to be working at 50 percent capacity. They’re only usually getting about 25 percent let’s say the 50 percent that’s in there. So that means they’ll really cut down to budget. So most of them are using their coffee shop. And they’ve got minimum menus. So instead of having one hundred and five items on the menu from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to now, there’s 60 items and it’s very limited. You also got to think about the employees because of Covid and what they’re doing right now, it’s really put a struggle on the casino level as far as the chefs and the managers because now they don’t have someone going up to a set of tongs and grabbing their chicken breast and putting it on their plate anymore. Instead of just having, let’s say, 20 people working in 80 station EDR (employee dining room). Now, there’s got to be 80 people working all those little stations to hand out stuff to people. 

Juliana Pesavento, 32
Public Relations & Marketing, New York City

You operate on incredibly slim margins just to succeed, but you’re creating the fabric of communities. Everything that a restaurant symbolizes is something that I just value personally. And so being in this industry, I find super rewarding. 

The Counter Stories by our editors.