Restaurants in blue cities starve for customers, as red-state Florida rocks, data shows

Amidst COVID lockdowns, defund the police movements, violent riots and soft-on-crime policies, progressive-run cities have starkly delineated themselves from their conservative counterparts and the compounding ramifications of their agenda haven’t been limited to spikes in violent crime.

Under normal circumstances, the restaurant industry is challenging and rife with failure caused by any number of reasons. Add in crippling inflation and one might expect to see a dramatic decrease in consumers choosing to dine out across the board.

However, data collected by reservation service OpenTable showed that is hardly the case as restaurants in heavily Democratic cities have struggled but those in freer Republican locales where the rule of law has been enforced are booming.

Looking back to July 2019, pre-pandemic also meant before the death of George Floyd spurred Black Lives Matter protests throughout Minneapolis, Minn. and the rest of the nation. OpenTable provided a comparison of daily diners from that point to July 2022 and found a decrease in the Twin Cities by an average of 54.3 percent.

Comparatively, diners in Gov. Ron Desantis’ (R-Fla.) have ticked up by almost 30 percent over that same time period in cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Naples and Tampa.

Fox News Digital spoke with Greg Urban, owner of Wild Greg’s Saloons in locations in Texas, Florida and Minnesota who pointedly stated, “Minneapolis needs to clean up its act.”

“We’re just getting killed in Minneapolis. People don’t feel safe. They don’t feel safe coming to Minneapolis. It’s a public safety issue right now,” he went on. Conversely Urban stated, “We’re off to the races in Florida.”

The Sunshine State “is totally the place to be. The whole country flocked to Florida, and to a lesser extent to Texas to escape the lockdowns. Even the Democrat politicians went to Florida,” the business owner reminded.

Lockdown peddlers like Govs. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) and Phil Murphy (D-NJ) along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) had all enjoyed getaways to the freedom sanctuary of Florida while their constituents were muzzled by draconian restrictions.

OpenTable told Fox News their data collection was, “based on a sample of approximately 20,000 restaurants that provide OpenTable with information on all of their inventory in states or metros with 50+ restaurants on the OpenTable network.”

Their findings showed the 10 worst performing cities including Minneapolis were: San Francisco (-45.9%), Portland (-45.2%), Seattle (-40.8%), Philadelphia (-39.2%), New York City (-37.9%), St. Louis (-28.2%), Washington, D.C. (-27.3%), Baltimore (-24.9%) and Chicago (-22.8%).

Andrew Rigie of the New York City Hospitality Alliance contended to Fox News, “There were certainly some [COVID]  policies that made sense and others that didn’t make sense or went on way too long. There was a lot of frustration with constantly changing city, state and federal regulations. It was an impossible situation.”

However, Geoff Luebkemann, spokesman for the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association indicated the same was far from true for his state. “Florida quickly returned to normal and avoided the draconian lockdowns you saw in other parts of the country.”

“The public policies that Gov. DeSantis enacted and in some cases led on attracted a lot of people and a lot of business here. It created buoyancy in the market, a sense that you could live your life normally in Florida,” he continued.

America’s governor has been unrelenting in his pursuit of improving the state of Florida and his most recent effort included the suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren for refusing to enforce the law as so many progressive DAs have done in failing metropolises throughout the United States.

“When you flagrantly violate your oath of office, when you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty,” DeSantis said of Warren.

The leadership from the governor has attracted restaurants from blue states to open new establishments in Florida to leech off of DeSantis’ thriving economy while smaller venues in their home states continue to struggle, in part because of further interference from Democratic lawmakers.

Hospitality spokesman Ben Wogsland told Fox News Digital, “About two-thirds of restaurants took on debt during COVID and the average amount was $500,000.” President Joe Biden’s administration had made $26.8 billion available through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, but according to the Small Business Administration, nearly three-quarters of applicants received no money.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported profitable enterprises like “David Chang’s Momofuku Group, which operates ritzy restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Toronto, fattened itself on $6.9 million in taxpayer cash through the fund,” as an immigrant pizzeria owner in Manhattan received the least of any other restaurant in the borough at $1,816.38.

The top cities thriving for restaurant goers according to OpenTable were Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Austin, Naples, Tampa, Nashville, San Antonio, Scottsdale and Phoenix.


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Kevin Haggerty


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