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D.C. Restaurant Experts Share Their Biggest Hopes for the Industry in 2023

Worker shortages and service charges loom large

US-POLITICS-MONUMENT Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and 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 month. Final thoughts: the panel reflects on their biggest hopes for the restaurant industry in 2023.

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic: My wish is for restaurants to get back to adequate staffing levels, in the dining room as well as the kitchen.

Ann Limpert, Washingtonian executive food editor and critic: That D.C. continues to be a place for indie talent to thrive amid all the chains and big restaurant groups that are here and on the way.

Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian food editor: There’s a lot of doomsday talk among restaurateurs about the fallout from Initiative 82, which will phase out the tip credit system in DC. My hope is that the change isn’t so burdensome to those who were against it and that it ultimately has the intended effect of helping workers. I also hope that if restaurants are all going to roll out service charges, they do so as transparently as possible and outline clear expectations for tipping. We’ll see! Regardless, I’ll be following this issue closely.

Lori Gardner, Been There, Eaten That blogger: I look forward to chefs continuing to push boundaries and reimagine their cultural heritage through food, whether it’s by menu refreshes at existing restaurants or at new venues.

Anchyi Wei, Anchyi Adorned blogger: I just want businesses to thrive and survive! It’s a tough industry and I’m so happy to see restaurants bustling again after the pandemic.

Rick Chessen, Rick Eats DC blogger: My hope for the restaurant industry in 2023 is modest: something resembling normalcy after the incessant battering of the past few years. Running a restaurant in normal times is hard enough. Running a restaurant in the midst of Covid outbreaks, staffing shortages, supply chain delays, and massive inflation — all happening at the same time — takes almost super-human resilience. I pray they finally get a break. But if they don’t, we need to pressure our elected officials step up and provide some relief.

Angie Duran, Women of Wine co-founder, director of operations for Duo Group and at Bottles Wine Garden: A lot of really strong talent left the industry during the pandemic/after pandemic. Very slowly, I’ve seen some come back or at least consider getting their feet wet again. I hope the changes many operators made stick and continue to evolve. Helping some of the gifted that felt mistreated or burnt out find their way back.

Nycci Nellis, TheListAreYouOnIt.com publisher: It’s tough out there in the hospitality world. Staffing shortages are still real, the addition of service charges and/or Initiative 82 is confusing and tensions are just high. With all that in mind, I would like to remind everyone to please take their kindness pills before they head out the door and take a seat at a restaurant or bar. Everyone is trying to do the best they can — trust me when I tell you that no restaurant wants their guest to leave unhappy — so get out there and eat (and drink!) your way through the amazing and ever-expanding DC dining scene.

Missy Frederick, Eater cities director: That the worker shortage and all the underlying issues contributing to it miraculously get solved, resulting in phenomenal service, less stress for owners, and great conditions for workers everywhere (hey, I can dream; it’s Christmas!).

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