'Bar Rescue' Star Jon Taffer Foresees 'Damning' Consequences of Coronavirus for Restaurant and Bar Industry (Exclusive)

Bar Rescue host Jon Taffer is urging his colleagues in the bar and restaurant industry to look to the future amid the coronavirus pandemic and focus on how their operations will have to change upon re-opening. In an exclusive PopCulture.com interview, the entrepreneur tackled the issues facing the industry he says no one else is talking about, saying, "Everybody's talking about how to sustain ourselves during the pandemic. I'm concerned about how to re-open after."

With bars and restaurants forcibly shuttered for all but take-out and delivery orders across the country amid the virus' spread, Taffer advised owners to look at the financial sustainability of staying open for limited business versus temporarily shutting down and focusing on the changes that will need to be made when they can once again open their doors.

"So many of us are dealing with sustainability on a day-to-day basis, I worry that we're going to run out of steam before we have a chance to reopen," he explained. "I believe that right now we need to be talking about how to restart America."

Things won't go back to the way they were before the pandemic, Taffer predicted: "I don't think people are going to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger for a long time. ... I think the word expectation now becomes demands. They're not customer expectations anymore, they're demands."

Having to spread customer seating out could result in the loss of significant seating, which on the razor-thin margins restaurants typically operate on "becomes very damning."

"What nobody talking about ... is that we're going to have to reduce capacities," Taffer told PopCulture. "When capacities change, revenues change."

Bar Rescue fans won't be surprised to hear Taffer advocate for a change in cleanliness standards in the industry as well, including masks, glove processes and coveralls on cooks or kitchen staff. "We need to take a surgical approach to the kitchen now," he said. "If everybody listened to what I said on Bar Rescue, we'd be safe."

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For people looking to support their favorite local restaurants now, Taffer recommended people buy gift cards through Shift4Cares.com, which matches an extra 5 percent to the restaurants (up to $10 million) in an effort to keep the economy going during this difficult time.

Photo credit: Manny Carabel/Getty Images