Boston restaurateur says coronavirus forced him to lay off entire staff

Chef Chris Coombs is fearful of what lies ahead of the curve

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Top-ranked Boston steakhouse Boston Chops, along with Boston Urban Hospitality sister eateries dbar and Deuxave, have taken a major hit from coronavirus closures, which has led to more than 230 restaurant employees being laid off.

Boston Urban Hospitality owner and chef Chris Coombs told FOX Business' Stuart Varney on Thursday that the decision was based on the notion that takeout service won't pay the bills in the Massachusetts capital that has since become like a ghost town.

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Coombs also said that he’s confident in the “really thoughtful” relief bill being put together that will help support small business. His biggest concern is what lies on the other side of the curve.

“What's the psychological damage done to the consumer?” he said. “When are people going to feel comfortable to gather in restaurants? Because all restaurants depend on being really busy and full and vibrant. And I think right now people are scared of that environment.”

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BOSTON - MAY 9: Boston Chops restaurant in Boston's South End. (Photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The thought is to rehire staff post-pandemic, but Coombs continues to question how much time it may take for public anxieties to normalize. Coombs said he is afraid for the tip-dependent employees who may be working in a near-empty restaurant.

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“They rely heavily on tips,” he said. “If we don't have guests, there are no tips. It's a lot like these airplanes that are flying around right now. Just because there's a plane from New York to L.A., doesn't mean there's anyone on it."