TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - It’s no secret that the restaurant and hospitality industries took a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. State officials say, though, that Indiana is leading the charge in the recovery of these two industries.
Patrick Tamm is the President and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association. On Wednesday, he joined Governor Holcomb’s press conference live at J. Ford’s Black Angus in Terre Haute. He spoke about the state of the restaurant and lodging industries after going through a year of COVID-19.
First and foremost, Tamm said it’s clear that both the restaurant and hospitality industries suffered significant losses as a result of COVID-19. Indiana hotels lost over 45% of their top-line revenues last year, and restaurants were the most affected industry during the pandemic.
However, in the last 30 days, Tamm says they have turned a strong corner in the State of Indiana. He says Indiana restaurants are recovering significantly better than its peers nationally and is far and away the “number one seed” in the Midwest in terms of revenue and sales.
Owner of J. Ford’s Black Angus in Terre Haute Kelly Ford agrees that things are looking up.
“We’ve not gone backward ever. Whatever phase we’ve opened up at—we’ve never had any restrictions that we’ve walked back on,” Ford explained, “I think that that’s helped with the confidence of the public.”
“We are far off from pre-pandemic employment levels, but we are definitely moving in the right direction,” Tamm said.
Tamm also spoke about what’s led these industries to fare so much better than Midwest and national peers.
Tamm says the biggest contributor to Hoosier restaurants leading the way in revenue recovery is the partnership with both state and local health officials.
Jeff and Kelly Ford agree. They say the Governor’s office has been extremely willing to listen throughout the pandemic.
Tamm says other states can’t say the same, and that’s what sets Indiana apart.
“State, as well as local health officials, are working together overwhelmingly to find creative solutions, utilize outdoor and indoor venues, and also best practices,” Tamm explained, “We’ve seen it time and time again.”
The Ford’s agree. They lost 50% of sales last year. They are now down 35-40% and steadily growing again.
Tamm says the back half of 2021 looks very positive for restaurants in Indiana. Kelly Ford says it all comes down to customer confidence.