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National Restaurant Association - Shutdown paralyzes national park concessions

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Shutdown paralyzes national park concessions

Restaurants are feeling the impact of the government shutdown in different ways, but companies under contract to operate restaurants in national parks and other federal properties are among those who have been hit the hardest. Their doors have been closed since the shutdown began Oct. 1, and even as Congress continues negotiations, there’s no way to tell when the government will re-open.

It’s a waiting game for companies like Delaware North, which manages concessions and lodging in major national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. The company says it has been forced to lay off the majority of its national park workforce, about 3,000 employees, reducing payroll by $1 million a week.

A company statement used Yosemite National Park to put the economic impact of the shutdown into perspective. “The estimated economic impact to the concessions in Yosemite is just under $3 million each week,” the statement said. “There are more than 1,100 private concession workers in Yosemite who have been required to take a forced vacation or have significantly reduced or zero work hours.”

“[The shutdown] has had a tremendously large impact on Delaware North,” said company spokesman Glen White. “We have so many employees who are having their livelihoods jeopardized.” The company, White said, is still spending money on food for the employees and subsidizing their lodging.

The open-ended nature of the shutdown makes it difficult to plan for a re-opening, but employees are being patient, White said.

“At many of the locations, our employees are local,” he said. “We’ve had people taking vacation time so they’re still in the area ready to go if there’s a resolution.” Guests with reservations at lodging facilities managed by Delaware North are being contacted five days before their reservation to let them know that a visit may not be possible, White said. Many visitors aren’t happy to get the news, and the company is fielding thousands of phone calls and letters from upset visitors.

“Delaware North urges Congress to work together to reach an accord that will end this government shutdown and prevent further damage to the reputation of the United States as a travel destination,” the company said in a statement.

The National Restaurant Association is asking restaurateurs to write to Congress to ask for a resolution and share stories of how the shutdown is impacting their business.

“The debate over government funding and the debt ceiling, while important, is cutting into restaurant operators’ bottom-line every day the government remains closed,” said Scott DeFife, NRA executive vice president, policy and government affairs. “The shutdown is negatively impacting the livelihood of our restaurant customers and our workers. Congress must act now to end the government shutdown and restore economic certainty.” Prior to the shutdown, the NRA joined more than 250 organizations in a letter asking Congress to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government into the next fiscal year, raise the debt limit, reform entitlement programs and tackle tax reform. 

Restaurant operators may contact Congress through America’s Restaurant Advocates, the NRA’s grassroots advocacy initiative.

Click here to ask Congress to pass a continuing resolution and end the federal shutdown.

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