'This is pretty brutal': Metro Detroit restaurants hit hard by omicron surge

Grand Trunk Pub
Posted at 9:04 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 23:22:23-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — As cases surge once again pushing hospitals near their breaking point, local restaurants are closing down or limiting hours as omicron delivers a heavy blow.

“This is pretty brutal,” said Timothy Tharp, who owns Grand Trunk Pub and Checker Bar in downtown Detroit.

Just over a month ago things were looking up for downtown dining with the return of the downtown tree lighting, along with the ice rink and shops in Cadillac Square. But as Christmas came to an end, cases of COVID-19 began to soar.

“The sales have dropped off so badly," Tharp said. "In the last week, it’s been very, very difficult in terms of our sales as well as having a lot of people test positive.”

The pub was closed Thursday and had to close early other days due to lack of business and staffing. It was also closed for two days between Christmas and New Years, so staff could get tested. A usually busy time of the year for business lost to the pandemic.

“A lot of other industries are booming, and this is yet again where I think restaurants are going to take it in the teeth,” Tharp said. “It's going to be hard for a lot of restaurants to hang on through this.”

Across metro Detroit, bars and restaurants are closing down temporarily due to the surge. The Old Miami posted on Facebook that they would be closed until further notice due to sick staff members. The Magic Bag in Ferndale began rescheduling a number of concerts this month. Even up north, popular breweries like Short’s Brewpub in Bellaire shut its doors until at least Jan. 10.

“Businesses aren’t made to be stopped and started, stopped and started, — that’s just not the beast that they are," Tharp said. "Every time we go through something like this, the restaurants in this case become weaker."

Tharp says this surge, which comes amid staffing and supply chain issues, might be one of the most challenging stretches of the pandemic.

However, he feels confident that he and his fellow restaurant owners will do whatever it takes to make it through.

“You're going to see a lot of just pivoting and pivoting and pivoting from your local restaurant. Adjusting hours of operation, adjusting menus, just doing anything they can to stay open,” Tharp said.