Chef Paul Sorgule who leans on his vast experience to share insights about kitchen culture and the chef's profession writes a letter to the US President to plead for help for the restaurant industry in its time of need.
"Mr. President – I will state up front that I am not one of your supporters and never have been, but as history has demonstrated time and again – during a time of significant crisis our country looks to and stands behind our leader as he or she makes decisions of life and death and stands to carry the nation through and beyond the calamity of the moment. We did this with Roosevelt during WWII and the Great Depression, Bush through the first Iraq crisis, George W. Bush through the tragedy of 9/11 and the initial phase of the war on terror, and Obama as we scratched our way through economic collapse. We (myself included) crave to support you in the process of leading us through Covid-19. The country is willing to put aside political and philosophical differences and unify behind you to show us the way through a daunting health crisis.
You have the advantage right now – it is yours to keep or lose. There have been significant stumbles so far, and actually the country will still set those aside as long as you do the right thing in this moment. Put aside the mistakes – we need to know what will happen today because the time to move is in the moment. We do not have the luxury of too many tomorrows or the luxury of ignorance of the challenges. The country needs an all out mobilization of the military, Congress, the medical community, manufacturing, international partners, transportation, public offices and private business, the banking industry, education, and anyone who has the ability to contribute in some way. Everyone is ready for you to lead – the buck does start and stop with you.
We need the federal government to set the tone and establish a clear strategy. In the absence of this – individual states and communities will make their own decisions based on what they know. This is human nature in the absence of a master plan. Independent decisions like this will lead to further isolation of ideas and loyalties and more distancing from the common good. The ball is in your court.
History will tell a story, but the story can be changed right now. How will others remember you and the government’s leadership as a whole? The only focus right now must be an all out, pull out all the stops, mobilization of everyone and everything to stop this virus. We need measurement through testing, limitless medical supplies for caregivers, economic support that ends up in the hands of the average American, a way to help businesses- especially small businesses survive and recover, thousands of temporary hospital beds, and an all out effort to develop, test and approve a vaccine.
Our healthcare workers need to be safe and feel supported. To not have sufficient testing so that benchmarks can be managed, and to not have the supplies necessary to keep these workers safe is beyond comprehension for the wealthiest democratic country in the world. How could this happen?
I am a member of one of the most important industries in the country. I have, for five decades, been a part of the hospitality industry, particularly the restaurant business. This business employs more people than any other except the government, is the portal industry for first jobs for a majority of Americans, and an essential industry that not only feeds our people, but also provides rewards, positive interaction, laughter, and emotional support for guests from coast to coast. There are countless times throughout a typical year when the restaurant industry steps up to support those who are suffering – no one needs to ask – when needed, we are there. We are an industry that like many of its employees lives financially in the moment. Our staff members cannot afford to survive without next weeks’ paycheck and tips and the restaurants where they work are close behind. This shutdown, although necessary and one that all restaurants understand and support, will immediately cripple those associated with the business, and if longer than a few weeks will likely result in business failures. Recovery will be questionable for thousands of restaurants who will find it impossible to find loans from banks, and will struggle to pay rent, re-hire employees, re-invigorate relationships with vendors, and work to bring customers back through their doors. This industry needs help.
The same can be said for retail businesses, private colleges, ground transportation, and a multitude of smaller businesses that have always been the lifeblood of our country. We need immediate leadership to combat the virus TODAY, not next week, and we need a realization that any stimulus for the future must include small business and the average American worker – NOT just big business.
Mr. President – this is your opportunity to do the right thing and mobilize the country, to inspire confidence, to view this as a war that must be won, and to demonstrate to the world that America is as great as we profess to be. I stand ready to support you in this regard, but am losing hope hour by hour. You are the President – BE THE PRESIDENT NOW."
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