February 12th, 2021
Campaign Launched to Save Long Branch Restaurants: ‘Pledge to Preserve’
This February, residents of the Long Branch neighborhood began signing on to a campaign to save their neighborhood restaurants. The campaign, called Pledge to Preserve, was launched Feb. 5 by the Long Branch Business League and MHP.
Zeroing in on the many restaurants in the Long Branch neighborhood that have suffered enormous financial losses over the past year of pandemic-related damages, the initiative asks community members to voluntarily commit to purchasing meals at least three times a month from any Long Branch restaurant.
At the end of the campaign’s first week, already twenty-eight local residents had signed on to the campaign. “If we can get every person on our list to convince one friend to pledge, we can double that number soon,” said Catherine Rytkonen, the Business League’s marketing manager.
The Pledge to Preserve webpage lists the 15 participating Long Branch restaurants — along with their cuisine type, menu, and social media connections.
The initiative represents a local Long Branch response to a wider national crisis. According to the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), one in four jobs lost during the pandemic have been in the food and beverage industry. That’s the equivalent of 5.9 million jobs lost.
According to the same study, if no direct aid is provided some 85 percent of independent restaurants will likely close by the end of this year.
The pandemic-related crisis hit a small business sector that could ill afford such a challenge.
“Even in normal, non-pandemic years it is difficult to run a restaurant and keep it in the black,” the Pledge to Preserve webpage points out. “Many restaurants generate as much as half their annual income from weddings, parties, and holiday-related events (Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Christmas). This year all that has been cancelled.”
What is more, even though Long Branch’s restaurants have so far managed to keep their doors open, there is no guarantee they will all survive the coming months without vigorous and, indeed, greatly increased support from private persons and the public sector.