It is estimated the nation’s restaurant and food service industry took a $240 billion hit from the pandemic. That hit home at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center and prompted the Fort Wayne-based organization to create the Restaurant Revitalization Speaker Series, which includes virtual events featuring Indiana restaurant industry experts and has served as a lifeline for some restaurants in the region and beyond. Ted Baker, interim chief executive officer of the NIIC, says as of December 2020, more than 110,000 eating establishments around the country have closed due to the pandemic.
Baker talked about the speaker series and its impact in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
“[The series] was created by an employee of the NIIC. Her name is Sarah Lance and Sarah has a brother who has been in the industry and very much so in the Fort Wayne area, and she watched him go through this tragedy and the struggles and such,” said Baker. “He worked hard. He kept things going and so from this, she thought his story could be shared with others.”
The NIIC has held three of the five events in the series and Baker says they have given people in the restaurant industry hope as the recovery from the pandemic continues.
“It gives them a little bit of, ‘Hey maybe we can get through this together,'” he said. “And so, one person’s story, one person’s struggle, one person’s success may make a difference in another person who is still going through that. It has also led a lot of connections with each other. We don’t have to walk these journeys alone and so this program [has been] very, very popular. A lot of feedback from this and a lot of interest is that people are learning to connect with each other to get through this.”
The final two events in the Restaurant Revitalization Speaker Series will take place next Monday and Wednesday, the latter featuring Sarah Lance’s brother Josh. You can learn more about the events by clicking here.