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Tough Love: The Restaurant Business in Oregon

Norma Mortenson

Few industries have suffered as much during and after the height of COVID than the restaurant business. Lockdowns that closed doors for months, a massive shift to takeout only, inflation pressures and a labor shortage have all wracked an industry that was already tough to begin with.

Oregon On The Record spoke with those on the front lines of the restaurant business in our community and heard directly about the incredible pressure, stress, and love that they daily routine entails.

We spoke with chef owners from noted local establishments Lion and Owl, Pazzo, All thai’d Up, and Ivy’s Cookin’ and heard how they survived the pandemic and how their mindset of flexibility and innovation kept them going during the darkest of times.

The president and CEO of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association also told us that the industry is still suffering from a lack of employees who haven’t yet filled positions at a pre-pandemic level.

Yet despite the challenges, everyone told us that being a restauranter is a true calling for those who heed it.

Michael Dunne is the host of KLCC's public affairs show Oregon On The Record. He also hosts the business-focused podcast, Oregon Rainmakers. Do you have a suggestion for a guest or topic? Email Michael at mdunne@klcc.org.