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Milwaukee Independent Restaurant Coalition Hopes Coronavirus Sparks Change In Hospitality Industry

Sarah Silbiger
Getty Images
A waiter at Mon Ami Gabi, a French restaurant in Maryland, wears a protective face mask as they serve customers outdoors.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard. As COVID-19 rates continue to rise, restaurants have had to reevaluate operating plans or close their doors.

From the tipping system to sustainability to health care, this pandemic has exposed the major flaws of the hospitality system. The Milwaukee Independent Restaurant Coalition (MIRC) was recently formed to address these issues and create change so restaurants can better succeed on the other side of this pandemic. 

Dan Jacobs of JVR Hospitality group in Milwaukee is a founding member of the coalition. He has already had some of JVR's restaurants close due to the pandemic. However, Jacobs sees hope for Milwaukee’s restaurant economy if independent restaurants can unite.

"We knew that this was something that Milwaukee needed. We needed a voice for the independent restaurant and bars so that at the end of [the pandemic] we could see the restaurant and bar community succeeding," says Jacobs.

Safe and healthier workplaces, more diverse and equitable hiring, livable wages, and environmental sustainability are all issues that MIRC has highlighted.

“Right now, we have a blank slate. Like the restaurant industry as a whole,” Jacobs says

He believes that means taking on bigger issues in the restaurant industry. “Not just tipping, but how we look at who works in the front and who works in the back, how we promote people, how we hire people, how owners can get a more equitable share of the restaurant itself is all on the table,” says Jacobs.

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Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.