It’s been more than half a year since the Coronavirus put a fork into the concept of business as usual, but it’s been particularly tough on folks working in the food and beverage industry. After months of navigating a changing, uncertain landscape, industry professionals are taking a realistic look at what the future holds in a series of virtual panel discussions sponsored by YurView and hosted by Eat Drink RI President David Dadekian.
“This is about the road to recovery and what that path looks like,” Dadekian said. “Where, hopefully, things are going in an upward direction.”
The Rhode to Recovery: RI Food & Drink is part one of the Rhode to Recovery video series appearing here on YurView.com and the YurView YouTube channel beginning Friday October 30th. Each episode will feature Dadekian moderating a topic of discussion such as the RI food and drink industry with three other people who share a respective field, including beer and distilleries, food and drink businesses, tourism and hospitality, and finally, restaurants.
Like so many others have done throughout this unprecedented time, Dadekian plans to take an optimistic but realistic point-of-view as he talks with colleagues about the possibility of these two viewpoints converging.
“We don’t want to be a downer about it or have a pessimistic show,” he said. “But obviously, we’d like to discuss the issues that have been at the core of this for the past six, almost seven months.”
Everyone knows the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has been a whirlwind, and food and drink experts are no exception. They provide a unique window into how the coronavirus has challenged the livelihood of local communities.
“It’s been a ripple effect throughout all sorts of businesses,” Dadekian said.
Eat-in restaurant owners have scrambled to convert their menus to take-out only. Indoor dining at some capacity is okay until it’s not again, leaving staffing questions in the air and waiters wondering how they are going to put food on their own tables once they get home. Wine distributors have walked the tightrope of ordering too much or not enough, questioning if New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are still on the winter docket. Meanwhile, propane heaters have topped napkins and paper goods on everyone’s shopping list.
Dadekian has stacked each Rhode to Recovery episode with a diverse panel of real people who have been on the frontlines of the food and beverage industry these past few months. The first episode will feature Amber Jackson from The Black Leaf Tea and Culture Shop, John Sgambato of Yacht Club Soda and Cathryn Kennedy, a representative from Wright’s Dairy Farm.
Episode two’s panel will connect members of local breweries and distilleries, including Jeremy Duffy from The Guild, Alecia and Carlo Catucci from White Dog Distilling, and Morgan Snyder, Jr., from Buttonwoods Brewery.
The third episode in the series will focus on tourism and hospitality. Kristen Adamo, President & CEO, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau will be on the panel, along with Discover Newport Vice President of Marketing, Kathryn Farrington, and Ocean House/OHM Collection Group Wine Director, Jonathan Feiler.
The fourth episode panel is still being finalized, but will focus on how restaurants are doing and what the future looks like for them. Along with moderating interesting discussions among panel members, Dadekian hopes viewers will realize the importance of supporting local businesses despite future unknowns.
“I want people to understand these are the small local businesses that make up the community,” He said. “Once they are gone, they are gone.”
His expertise may be in food and drink, but Dadekian’s sentiments apply to all local, small businesses whose owners are not only in the kitchens, but behind the counters and doing all of it.
In spite of all of the challenges, these are the people who continue to put their hearts into the fabric of their communities. Like their clientele, they wake up and go to work in hopes of finding light at the end of this seemingly endless tunnel. In supporting them, people are supporting a positive notion that together, we’ll make it out of this.