Jon Taffer is a legend in the restaurant & hospitality business. Those who know him and follow the business mogul are aware of his brute honesty and tough-love approach to management and business. He has revolutionized many of the standard, best practices we see in our everyday lives around operating and fully leveraging entertainment. He may be best known for his invention of the NFL Sunday Ticket that completely changed the TV viewing experience for sports fans around the world.
Now, Taffer’s signature catchphrase is “Shut it down!” when talking about restarting a struggling or failing bar, but in regard to the current state of the hospitality and restaurant industry, I think it’s fair that he would preach the opposite. Taffer knows the calamity that has been devastating business owners across the country.
The renowned bar consultant has helped save hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses throughout his career and has become an icon while doing it. The hit show Bar Rescue is a great representation of all that Taffer stands for in his signature “no games” attitude and tackling problems head on. He is an innovative problem solver who’s unconventional approach to unique situations has earned him the reputation he carries on today.
Taking a pragmatic approach, he is willing to do whatever it takes to help the thousands of restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotels that have been brutalized by this pandemic for a variety of reasons. When 60% of business closures have been deemed permanent, with the restaurant industry being of the hardest hit, Taffer has been lobbying and trying to get answers in terms of policy and action that can help save much of the hospitality industry.
And that is what is so interesting about these campaigns and the apparent dichotomy between the 2 candidates. While Joe Biden is leaving national lockdowns “on the table“, Trump has been adamant about reopening our economy and getting past this pandemic. There hasn’t been many specific policy-led conversations about many of these issues and the hospitality and restaurant industry is up at the top for most important to actually get ourselves back to where we were. 1 in 6 restaurants have closed and over 3million people are out of work. Restaurants, in terms of jobs, has been hit the hardest by this pandemic.
Yes, Trump can say we need to open up the economy, and Biden can say we need to shut down the virus. But the inherent problems with both of those is that they are such broad statements that they don’t get to the heart of how we are going to do each of those things. Personally, I don’t think it has to be a choice between either-or, and we can open up safely while protecting those vulnerable and practicing good hygiene.
That’s why this conversation with Jon Taffer, who made it a point that he reached out to both campaigns, is so important for many who are looking at what the next course of action can be for this country. His 15 minute sit-down with the President allowed someone who is simply concerned about helping those who are struggling get concrete answers and commitments from the candidate about what he will do to again prove that he is the “jobs President” to save the economy and get Americans back to work.
Because reopening is one thing, but balancing that with consumer demand is important as well. If customers don’t feel safe, then they won’t help get the economy moving again. The people are the only true engine of the economy. Trump has claimed that there is already “pent up demand“, but with rising case numbers throughout the country we could potentially see a change in attitudes. Last week’s economic numbers may hint otherwise, but once people are forced indoors for the winter we’ll have to continue to monitor consumer confidence. That will also further decimate restaurants as outdoor seating will no longer be a viable option. Action needs to come soon.
In this interview Taffer fairly pressed Trump on 3 main areas in terms of tax relief and incentives to get people eager to spend and further stimulate the economy. This included renewing and broadening the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), reinstitution of the business meal deductions, and some type of domestic travel incentive. Taffer was satisfied with these proposals and believes they will help all those who need it. Trump has also talked about ending the payroll tax which could help people across all sectors of the economy.
This all comes as millions await a new stimulus package that is in a complete limbo between all parties involved. It was encouraging that in this interview Trump seemed pretty optimistic that relief would be passed after the election, but I’m just hoping he wasn’t only saying that on the assumption that his party would have great results this week. He noted how it’s a bipartisan issue and that is true. No matter the results of the vote there should be a bill passed as soon as possible to help out the millions of Americans who are getting desperate.
I’m not going to pretend that I understand the complete ramifications of Trump committing to these policies, but at this point any substance is better than none. And if Taffer is for it, then I would be an idiot to oppose an expert with his acumen of the industry. These businesses need help and they can use these benefits to rehire staff, pay off debt, and then continue to grow beyond the pandemic. In theory it seems very simple and I don’t think there are many better solutions being proposed right now. Instead of putting more of a burden on restaurants, we should trust the free markets to find the best solutions and help everyone improve to get through this crisis.
I thought this interview was very well done. It wasn’t a puff piece by Taffer to prop up Trump before Tuesday. It wasn’t a hit piece either. It was a policy driven discussion where Jon stayed focussed in getting the answers he was looking for. He came out of the conversation believing that Trump would look out for this huge sector of our economy and listen to industry leaders who want to help accelerate the rebound. He got substantive commitments about how the government can take action to relieve hardworking Americans in both the short and long term. It shines an optimistic light.
Joe Biden on the other hand hadn’t answered Taffer’s request to conduct basically the same interview. Because Biden doesn’t take questions as it is, the only thing we really know about his plan for tackling this problem was what he said in the final debate last week. He endorses the HEROES act as well that doesn’t seem to have really any bipartisan support. This is on top of his proposed tax hikes, regulations, and other restrictions. His campaign has been opaque in terms of policy.
Taffer believes these restraints alone would be devastating for those who are doing everything they can just to hang on right now. As Taffer is trying to be someone who is working in a bipartisan manner, that’s as explicit as you can get in terms of his economic outlook for a Biden administration. I hope that if Biden is to win he considers Taffer’s proposals or guidance in helping to get our economy fully back to pre-pandemic levels and beyond. As of right now there is no indication that would happen.
With Donald Trump running on being the “jobs President” and flouting his signature “promises made, promises kept” slogan, it’s most definitely encouraging that he endorsed these 3 attainable and seemingly pretty easily implemented policy changes. It gives people a clearer roadmap of what getting back to normal may look like and how the government can do things to help, not hurt businesses and entrepreneurs get out of this pandemic. There has been so much economic destruction that it needs to be put back in the hands of the people to build it back up brick by brick. There isn’t much of a reason to believe Trump wouldn’t get these things done if reelected.
I just want everyone to get back to a place where politics aren’t the biggest thing stopping us from reaching new accomplishments. I want the belief in the American dream to be real for every citizen who works to accomplish it.
But, it starts with our elected leaders no longer playing politics with a global health crisis and looming economic catastrophe. Hopefully once the election is over our politicians can realize they have actual work to do.
Thank you Jon Taffer for conducting an honest interview where the agenda wasn’t about tearing down a man you may disagree with, but instead finding answers to help those who could use them. That, to me, seems like real journalism.
Knowing these policies will also help further educate the electorate when they ultimately make their decision tomorrow.