Coronavirus Cost to the Downtown Salt Lake City Bars and Pubs

I spoke to Bridget Gordon now from the Green Pig Pub and the Harp and the Hound in Ogden to see how she is navigating her business closures and the 90 employees that work between her two establishments.


An interview with Bridget Gordon the owner of the Green Pig Pub



Here at Utah Stories, we made a huge decision today. For the last ten and a half years every month we have come out with a new issue of our monthly magazine. 

In April we will not be able to viably distribute our magazine. So unless the situation changes we will not come out with our April (Health and Wellness) issue. This is because everything is so uncertain. We cannot in good conscience send invoices to our advertisers to pay, unless we feel strongly that we can provide them with a viable distribution strategy. So we have come up with a different plan for April.

We are beefing up our online content and presence. We have our podcast, digital newsletters and videos. And we will be offering more content online, more stories and possibly a digital issue — and possibly a print issue if we happen to raise the support and funding to make that possible which I’ll go into later on. BUT while so much is uncertain we will be offering at least two podcasts per week and/or a podcast and a video. All geared toward helping everyone in Utah better survive and thrive during the Coronavirus. What we are offering is the following:

  • How to become more self-reliant. (if supply chains are affected)
  • How to grow an amazing backyard or container garden
  • How to handle your kids and occupy them in better ways from home
  • How to eat better, some basic nutrition and advice
  • How to forage for mushrooms in the forest (in case you need to bug out and live in a forest for a while like Rambo)

We have a lot of fun plans for what we want to provide and I’m really excited about it. But you need to subscribe to our digital newsletter to access all of this great content. So I’ll tell you how to do that at the end of the program.

So — for today’s program we take a look at our restaurants and bars in Salt Lake City, we talk to bar and restaurant owners and see how they are surviving. What do they believe will happen? I already spoke to Bridget Gordon, owner of the Green Pig Pub. I’ve known Bridget since we both started out, ten years ago. She is an awesome lady. And you are going to want to hear that conversation about what she believes will be the repercussions of COVID and what the face of downtown bars and restaurants will look like if they remain closed much longer.

I will also be talking to more restaurant and bar owners throughout the month. We will have a podcast at least twice per week and we will be offering more video content on the theme of providing a Coronavirus survival guide all through the month of April. 

As I said last time, there is a big problem with the numbers that we are getting because the numerator, the number of actual cases is still completely unknown. Which means that we really don’t have accurate numbers of the death rate. The numbers will become more clear in the following weeks and they are already beginning to become more clear, but we still don’t have a clear picture of the death rates.

The Government Bailout of the Economic Collapse

The current idea is that we are going to print, no let me use the correct terminology, we are going “issue $6 trillion in government treasuries.” to give all giant corporations who need it a massive bail out and it pay each American somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000, if they earn less than $100K. Let’s do the math on this. Six trillion divided by the total number of Americans (which is 340 million is $17.8 thousand). So do you realize that the cost for your $3,000 check, not including interest and inflation is nearly $18,000! 

So the feds are saying here you go, here is $3,000 — now just pay me back $18 grand and we will be square. This is a terrible deal. Giant corporations are getting massive amounts of money and bailouts. 

Small businesses have a pool of $350 billion to draw from in what they are calling the PPP. The Paycheck Protection Program. Under this loan business owners will be able to get .5% interest loans to keep paying employees on payroll. It will also forgive these loans entirely if you show that you kept the employees on your payroll and employed.

So it’s essentially a stimulus to incentivize business owners to not lay off their workers.  

I spoke to Bridget Gordon now from the Green Pig Pub and the Harp and the Hound in Ogden to see how she is navigating her business closures and the 90 employees that work between her two establishments. It was surprising to me to find that no bars in downtown Salt Lake City decided to remain open for curbside delivery. Gordon said this was because the cost of maintaining the kitchen staff they have is far too large to merit what they would likely receive in return for curbside delivery. 

Gordon doesn’t believe bars will reopen for another three months. She believes the government will continue to push out the open dates, which will likely cause many downtown bars and restaurants to fold. “Unfortunately there will be some that won’t survive,” she said. She also doesn’t see the current measures to be draconian or an overreaction. “We need to squash this bug! And we need to do whatever it takes to save the lives of people who could get sick.”

In light of what is happening in places like New York and New Orleans and California, we might very well be in mass quarantine, lock-down until something like till the end of June. Which I hope is wrong, but might as well plan on that. 

Gordon also said, she will be required to pay back everything the government gives to her, unless the employees return when she reopens, in which case all loans are forgiven. Employees returning is something completely out of her–and all small business owners’ control. This mandate puts employers in the very difficult position of picking and choosing which employees they trust will be the most loyal. But it’s not even really an issue of loyalty, when people are out of work naturally they need to go and find new jobs. So I don’t see how any business owner can effectively manage this.

Still, if the government is going to bail out businesses, especially small businesses should tap into these funds and use them. 

Utah Stories will be interviewing more small business owners in the coming weeks including Eddie Johanson from Yoshis and Erik Nelson owner of Ruth’s Diner. Stay tuned by subscribing to our digital newsletter.

Three Questions the Mainstream Media is not asking concerning the Coronavirus



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