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D.C. Restaurant Experts Share Their Biggest Hopes for the Industry in 2021

Financial relief from Congress is priority No. 1

“Congress, please help my industry,” D.C. pastry chef Paola Velez, says.
Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and — as a new twist this year — a couple industry pros to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to an annual “Year in Eater” survey will be revealed in several posts this week. For our last question, the dining experts share their biggest hopes for the industry 2021.

Paola Velez, executive pastry chef for Maydan, Compass Rose, and La Bodega: That the government steps in to help us. Without government assistance locally and nationally we won’t make it to the summer. The responsibility should not fall on the consumer to save restaurants during a pandemic. Congress, please help my industry.

Simone Jacobson, co-owner of Thamee: Quite simply, I hope we make it. I hope more women and people of color emerge as industry leaders, restaurant and bar owners. I hope they bring with them the knowledge, talent, and creativity needed to build equitable models that diners can buy into and celebrate. I hope in 2021, we find a safe way to share rituals, celebrations, and everyday joys with one another. I really miss y’all.

Lenore Adkins, freelance food writer: That COVID-19 ends swiftly so the restaurant industry can rebuild itself, but much better than it was before so it protects workers and holds reckless, racist, abusive and dysfunctional owners accountable — once and for all. And that all the restaurant that posted messages in support of Black Lives Matter on social media hire, groom, support, and nurture Black talent at all levels.

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic: A greater respect for the men and women — growers, restaurant workers and others — who devote themselves to making life more worth living through food and hospitality.

Tim Carman, Washington Post food columnist: That it survives, and begins to thrive again.

Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian food editor: That it survives.

Anela Malik, Feed the Malik blogger: That local independent restaurants are able to thrive within it.

Raman Santra, Barred in DC blogger: My biggest unrealistic hope for the restaurant industry is that all restaurants that don’t treat their staffs terribly survive. My biggest realistic hope is that all the spots that a significant number of people want to survive make it to the other side.

Ann Limpert, Washingtonian food editor and critic: That it gets a break. That kitchen culture continues to change and improve. And that the dining room mannequins will finally be put away.

Takera Gholson, Flights and Foods blogger: My biggest hope is that the industry receives more financial support as they work through rebuilding. I would love to see all of my favorite restaurants continue on and thrive.

Gabe Hiatt, Eater D.C. editor: That Congress orders relief funds specifically for independent restaurants that stop the bleeding, prevents some closings, or at least puts the small business owners in position to rebuild their lives after shouldering the brunt of the economic fallout from this public health crisis. That the greater awareness of inequity in the industry doesn’t fade away. That at some point it feels safe, normal, and even fun to work or eat inside a restaurant again.

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