BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — This has been a tough year for restaurants. Many are finding it difficult to make ends meet during the pandemic. Sinful Burger announced this week they'll be closing at the end of the month because they can’t make it work anymore.
“It just came time and we wanted to pick a special day, so I picked my birthday, Oct. 27 to close. A celebration of life. 9.5 years here,” Co-owner Jim Nearing said.
He and his wife Debbie were considering retiring and even put the restaurant up for sale last fall; but then COVID-19 halted business.
“Definitely shot the blood pressure through the roof,” Nearing said. “It’s very stressful not knowing day-to-day what’s going to happen next. We’ve lost a lot of money, we just made the decision, we want to close while we still have money to pay everybody, pay the vendors, pay the employees.”
This is an unfortunate trend we're seeing in the restaurant industry right now with families trying to save money by eating out less.
“When an economy does take a hit like the way our economy has,” Chris Decker, Professor of Economics, University of Nebraska Omaha said. “It’s a survival question, who can adapt the best that will lead to sustained success.”
Decker said the start-up costs for restaurants are relatively low but competition is high.
“Sometimes entry overshoots demand,” Decker said. “So, what happens then, even during good years, like 2018 and 2019, there were restaurants that didn’t make it. There were simply too many, the market was over saturated with restaurants. Then COVID hit and COVID exacerbated the problem.”
Decker said a restaurant has to be adaptable to survive the pandemic, coming up with new ways to keep their customer base strong.
“As long as this relatively sluggish recovery continues, I think we are going to continue to see restaurants, who are already in this highly competitive market to begin with, continue to struggle and we’re likely to continue to see more closures,” Decker said.
Since the announcement, business has picked back up again at Sinful Burger. But Nearing said it’s just too late.
“It picked up quite a bit, its back to where it used to be, which I’m extremely grateful, who know maybe someone will come in and offer to buy the place to keep it going,” Nearing said.
But he said it's the end of the chapter for him and his wife Debbie.