Anxiety in Service Industry as Michigan Restaurants, Bars Reopen

Here’s what to expect as Michigan restaurants and bar scene approach reopening on June 8th. WDET listeners who work in the service industry are nervous about returning.

Michigan restaurants and bars are preparing to re-open on June 8th following the end of Michigan’s ‘Stay Home’ order, but are local diners ready to return?

“You’re not going to see a switch flipped with 100% of restaurants reopening. It’s going to be a phased reintegration.” — Justin Winslow, Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association

Detroit Free Press restaurant critic Mark Kurlyandchik says while the state government can choose a date for re-opening, it will be consumer confidence — or a lack thereof — that makes or breaks this return to dine-in business for restaurant owners.

“Even when you open, there’s so much unknown about this virus and how it’s going to act,” says Kurlyandchik, who has been the restaurant critic for the Free Press since 2016.

“There’s [also] the ex-factor of how the public is going to react and how comfortable people are going to be eating in dining rooms in the next few weeks.”

Listen: Service industry workers express anxiety, concern about return to work at restaurant, bars in Michigan

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) has estimated that at least half of Michigan’s service industry workers — about 300,000 — are out of work due to COVID-19. 

MRLA president and CEO Justin Winslow says it will be a slow return to work for many as restaurants, bars and hotels plot a path toward re-opening safely.

“You’re not going to see a switch flipped with 100% of restaurants reopening,” says Winslow, whose industry group represents about 5,000 restaurants in the state. “It’s going to be a phased reintegration.”

While restaurants can reopen on June 8th, some businesses like salons and gyms will stay closed for the time being. Gov. Whitmer says the goal is to have all businesses back open on July 4th.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date

WDET is here to keep you informed on essential information, news and resources related to COVID-19.

This is a stressful, insecure time for many. So it’s more important than ever for you, our listeners and readers, who are able to donate to keep supporting WDET’s mission. Please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.