When the March closure of non-essential businesses occurred, I was splitting my time between Austin, Texas and Baltimore, Maryland, and I happened to be in Maryland. Great friends of mine (Charles and Susan) owned a restaurant in Baltimore and closed it, even though restaurants were allowed to provide food through carryout and delivery. When I asked Charles why he was not providing carryout, he said that he needed to understand how his restaurant could provide carryout and keep his employees and customers safe.
In a recently published article, Wall Street Journal reporters Dana Mattioli and Konrad Putzier ask the question, “When It’s Time to Go Back to the Office, Will It Still Be There?” Mattioli and Putzier state that because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will likely be fewer offices in the center of big cities. Companies will build hybrid schedules that will allow workers to stay home part of the week to free up space for social distancing, and smaller satellite offices will pop up in less-expensive suburbs as the workforce becomes less centralized.
A friend of mine owns a restaurant that closed after the governor of Maryland ordered non-essential businesses to close and for no one to assemble in groups of more than 10 people. His situation is not unique: in any city or state with similar emergency regulations, the only restaurants open provide carryout. Because of our friendship and my background in finance, he asked me if I would help him build a set of projections to reflect the restart of his business. Building the spreadsheet was not difficult, since he had detailed historical financials by month going back years. The difficult part was dealing with the uncertainty of when the business would be allowed to reopen.