Only a Third of Nebraska Restaurants Have Reopened Dining Rooms Amid Pandemic Recovery

June 5, 2020, noon ·

Nebraska Restaurant Association Executive Director Zoe Olson (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

It’s been a month since restaurants in Nebraska were allowed to reopen their dining rooms at partial capacity, but according to a new survey, only about a third of them have done that. The survey by the National Restaurant Association also shows 94% of Nebraska restaurants reported lower total sales between May 1st and May 15 compared to the same period last May. Zoe Olson is the executive director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association and says Nebraskans haven’t lined-up outside restaurants and she isn’t sure when they will.

“It all has to do with consumer confidence and consumer desires to get out and be with other people in areas,” Olson said. “So, we don’t know. It’s a great unknown right now.”

The survey shows a 64% decline in sales between May 1st and May 15th for Nebraska restaurants that have reopened their dining rooms compared to that same period in 2019. 71% of Nebraska operators say it’s unlikely their businesses will be profitable in the next six months. Olson says despite the bad news, many restaurant owners are moving forward.

“We’ve changed business operations literally overnight several times,” Olson said. “They’re resilient and those who are very savvy operators are going to do everything they can to protect their staff and serve the public in the most safe way they can. We’ve always done that.”

Olson says 39% of Nebraska restaurants open for any kind of business reported an increase in sales between the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May.