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NEVADA VIEWS: Your favorite Vegas restaurant is dead

Updated August 17, 2020 - 6:19 pm

This isn’t an op-ed. It’s an obituary.

We are sorry to inform you that your favorite restaurant is dead, and your elected Nevada legislators pulled the plug.

In the recently concluded 32nd legislative special session, our leaders acquiesced to special-interest groups and wealthy trial attorneys plying for power — much to the slaughter of small business. The Legislature met in a co-dependent bubble called Carson City, with experts shunned from the building, with hearings shrouded in the early-morning hours and with the shared voices of Nevada silenced.

If we sound angry, that’s because we are angry.

We asked for protection, and instead we received procrastination. We asked for a hand, and instead we received handouts — handouts with a merciless IOU ticket that must be paid back in an unrealistic timetable prior to a return to “normal business.”

All we asked was for the same treatment as Big Labor — for some flexibility to work with strip and shopping mall landlords on a longer moratorium for commercial evictions to help us survive. Or for the requirement that insurance companies acknowledge COVID-19 as a “business interruption,” which would have enforced our claims instead of allowing for baseless denials.

In short: the 32nd legislative special session came and went and nothing happened.

We are sorry to inform you that your favorite restaurant is dead — and our questions to you are these: Are you angry yet? And what are you going to do about it?

When our government prematurely lifted the moratorium on commercial evictions, your neighborhood restaurants were effectively kneecapped at a time when we were already hamstrung. Landlords seized upon the opportunity to rattle our death beds and demand full rent, plus late fees while most of us were still closed.

We are talking about 5,980 establishments in Nevada — about 220,000 jobs, which is approximately 15 percent of employment in this state. Most importantly, our industry generates $9.9 billion in sales revenue and was one of the fastest growing segments pre-COVID.

Given those stats, do you know happens when small businesses such as ours fall like dominoes? An increase in unemployment, a decrease in tax revenues and fewer businesses paying into the tax pot means less money for education, transportation and social programs that are already at crisis levels.

With restaurants disappearing daily, next on the chopping block will be the larger hospitality market and then the economy of Nevada. Which is why we need you, and we are asking for your voice.

Ours are the businesses leading the charge during this crisis, providing hope through hot meals — either independently or through programs such as Delivering with Dignity, that has provided more than 100,000 meals into high-risk Las Vegas homes.

Good enough is no longer good enough, and the time has come for our leaders to lead, to step up and to save those small businesses that are still standing. We demand action from those we elect.

We ask that you hold your elected officials accountable and demand real leadership, not politicking. It’s time for leaders who will do more than dither, who will give more than perfunctory promises and who will respond with what is right for the people and small businesses of Nevada.

Because we are sorry to inform you that your favorite restaurant is dead. And your second-favorite restaurant is next.

— Jeffrey Weiss and Paras Shah are owners of Valencian Gold. This essay was also signed by Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla of Honey Salt, Blau Associates; Marc Marrone of Graffiti Bao; J. Michael Stamm and Cathy Stamm of MGP Specialty Food Inc.; Pierre Gatel of Café Breizh; Oscar Amador of EDO Tapas; John Arena of Metro Pizza; Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Café; Natalia Badzajo and Brian Buechner of Big B’s BBQ; Lorraine Moss and Louiie Victa of 2 Sharp Chefs; and Justin Franco of Chefs4Vegas.

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