By Natasha Herzig

My name is Natasha Herzig and I am speaking on behalf of the South East Regional Council as chair of the restaurant working group.

I own Tay’s Brew House and Desserts and Tay’s BBQ AZ. I have had many sleepless nights, stressed over how I will pay my employees, and questioned if I will have to close…all while keeping my employees and customers safe. I have been overwhelmed by what has happened, not only to my businesses but also what I have seen happen to others’.

After watching last week’s emergency meeting, I have realized the lack of restaurant industry knowledge that some of you have has allowed things to become even more difficult for small business owners. You are making decisions that override employees’ rights. For example, asking me to medically asses my customers and take their temperature is possibly setting me up for a lawsuit. Additionally, I am not medically qualified to do so. 

You want sanitizer placed throughout so many locations at my businesses that it will take even more money to ensure this happens. If the general public cannot find hand sanitizer, how are we supposed to?! 

Unfortunately, you are speaking with no knowledge of how bad the food/meat supply chain is. We are in a food crisis right now. The cost of food has seen its largest increase in 50 years. Food is becoming so expensive that this could close even more restaurants than what Covid already did. We now have to add a surcharge that has been passed onto the customer; not to make money but to just pay our bills and stay open. You are forcing the hands of many small business owners to stay closed or, for the ones who survived, to have to close.

Before your last meeting many restaurants, if not most, were already following CDC guidelines. Before they even became guidelines, I already had implemented them into my business practices. We were getting along great with what we’re doing with no complaints. Customers were safe, employees were safe and most importantly we didn’t have to shut our doors.

This pandemic has already affected our industry in ways from which we may never recover and if we do, it will take a long time. To add stress to an already stressful situation lets me know that some of you have no idea what you are doing.

As I watched your emergency meeting go on last week, I could feel myself getting anxious and worried, trying to figure out how am I supposed to do all this? How am I supposed to afford all these additional costs? This is especially true because I was already doing my part in following the CDC guidelines. How can you say you care about the recovery of one of the hardest hit industries due to the coronavirus, but then pass such stressful financial codes and threaten us with violations?

This is a free country! Not only are we free to choose to open our businesses, we are free to stay home. What your last meeting said to me as a small business owner was that you do not trust me or my customers to make responsible and safe decisions. I passionately request on behalf of the small restaurant industry that you reconsider the detrimental effects this will have on your constituents.

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