Lawmakers who own restaurants concerned for workers

Coronavirus

Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille in Wyoming is among the restaurants being negatively impacted by widespread coronavirus shutdowns. (March 23, 2020)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the decision to close restaurants to in-person dining to help stop the spread of COVID-19, it was sure to have a big impact on workers who depend on those jobs for a living.

It also raises concerns about some restaurants not being able to weather the storm of another round of closures.

For two members of the state House, those new orders hit close to home.

State Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming, owner of Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille, and U.S. Rep. David LaGrand, D- Grand Rapids, is half owner of Long Road Distillers.

Tommy Brann of Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille in Wyoming explains how widespread coronavirus shutdowns are affecting his business. (March 23, 2020)

Brann would have like to have some input on the newest restrictions.

“In the House, the Senate and the governor, we all really have the same mission of saving lives. But it would’ve been nice to be consulted about this. Forget about the Brann’s restaurants and Outback even though they’re important to me cause they’re human beings. These buildings are human beings working in here. But think about employees, my employees for three weeks I’m going to have to not have them work, just a few will be working for takeout in our casual market cannot make it on takeout,” Brann said.

“Culver’s will flourish McDonald’s will flourish. Outback and Brann’s, we can’t flourish on takeout and the unemployment system is freaking screwed up in the state of Michigan. I have a constituent that’s three or four months behind, which I take money out of my own pocket to help them with grocery money, and now my employees are and go through this too,” Brann said.

LaGrand is also concerned about laid-off workers.

Long Road Distillers in Grand Haven on May 23, 2020.

“I am 50% owner in a distillery that essentially has two big restaurant operations, one in Grand Rapids and one in Grand Haven. We just closed down in-person dining and that’s something that’s going to be really hard to navigate around. So, people in the service sector are, it’s tough as a business owner and a legislator I’m really worried,” LaGrand said.

David LaGrand 030316_196013
State Rep. David LaGrand, D- Grand Rapids.

The legislator’s restaurants and all restaurants in the state will have to end in person dining at midnight Tuesday pending action on the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association litigation filing on Tuesday.

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency on Tuesday sent out a notice to anyone who may again be laid off that as they seek unemployment benefits they should reopen their previous claim rather than file a new one. More information on how to reopen a claim or file a new one can be found on the state’s website. The UIA added it has increased capacity in anticipation of more claims.

MICHIGAN UNEMPLOYMENT RESOURCES

Unemployment FAQs for workers | Unemployment FAQs for employers

The Federal COVID-19 Cares Act | Step by step: How to file a claim

More Michigan unemployment resources and information

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