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The Biggest Restaurant Hopes for 2022 from Carolinas Insiders

“... stop opening corny concepts ...”

Erin Perkins is the editor of Eater Carolinas.

In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. To kick it off in the Carolinas, Eater asked the group seven questions, ranging from the restaurants they frequented for takeout to the saddest surprises of the year. Responses are in no particular order, and readers are encouraged to leave answers in the comments.

Q. What is your biggest hope for the restaurant industry in 2022?

Matt Lardie, freelance writer and Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
My biggest hope is that going into the third year of the pandemic that the dining public finally realizes what important assets restaurants are to our community and treat the industry and staff with the respect they deserve. Wear your mask when asked to do so, tip well (20% is the bare minimum), and be kind to your servers, bussers, hosts, and bartenders.

Sam Spence, Editor of Charleston City Paper
It’s been tough seeing great servers and bartenders shuffle in and out of our favorite spots — and knowing the stress that puts on them and the rest of the house. I hope business models and wages can find an equilibrium so smaller, independent restaurants can hit the reset button (again) with a little more calm.

Marion B. Sullivan, food editor of Charleston Magazine
The third wave of Covid is closing restaurants all around the country. I hope that they will be able to hold on.

Eric Ginsburg, independent journalist and Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
I hope that locally-owned restaurants are able to survive the ongoing pandemic, and that owners focus on what’s most important — their people.

Cele and Lynn Seldon, Seldon Ink
That they manage to keep their doors open offering civilized service from servers who want to be there and are well-paid and taken care of.

Kenneth Andrews, Eater Carolinas contributor
I hope people can really start to rebuild and thrive again after this extremely rough period on the food and bev world.

KJ Kearney, founder of Black Food Fridays
Charleston is known for food. I get that. But we need more diversity in cuisine. We just got a Pakistani restaurant (!) but still not African cuisine! And that doesn’t speak to the many other cultures that live here but aren’t featured via food. Let hope the investors of restaurants are open to finding and funding the under represented and systematically oppressed.

Hanna Raskin, editor and publisher of The Food Section
I hope everyone working within it is properly compensated and treated with respect by managers and guests alike.

Dave Infante, editor of Fingers, an independent newsletter about drinking in America
Charleston’s specifically? I guess I hope people stop opening corny concepts that are clearly targeted at lowest-common-denominator tourists and instead invest in building businesses that residents can actually afford to eat at. Don’t let the breathless praise from glossy magazines fool you: the scene is going stale here, and catering to visitors rather than locals is a big reason why.

Jacob Pucci, food and dining reporter for The Fayetteville Observer
That more restaurant owners build relationships with local producers and suppliers. Some places do it well, but many don’t. The supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic should be proof that buying local is the way to go. I also hope that diners will treat restaurant staff with more respect and be more understanding. It’s been a hard two years for everyone.

Jenn Rice, freelance writer and Eater Carolinas contributor, covering NC
To not have to ride this never-ending rollercoaster of “what happens next?”

Maggie Ward, events and marketing manager of The Local Palate
More than anything, I’m hoping the warriors who have kept the restaurant industry alive these past two brutal years will catch the break they deserve. From staffing crises, supply chain issues, and downright disrespectful customers, our food & beverage professionals have waged a war to keep us fed, entertained, and safe. Since there’s a lot most of us can’t control in today’s strange world, my hope for 2022 is everyone in the industry feels our appreciation for all that they continue to do– and maybe have a little fun while they do it, too.

Erin Perkins, editor Eater Carolinas
I hope that smaller restaurant operators are able to not only survive but flourish in 2022.

Stephanie Burnette, Eat Drink Carolinas
Not sure if it’s my biggest hope, but I think 2022 can be the year restaurants find a way to offer secure parking at no cost to their employees. Too many servers no longer can afford to live in walking distance of their jobs.

Barbara Skidmore, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering SC and Savannah
The ability to continue to provide customers with the opportunity to dine in safely.

Melissa Howsam, editor-in-chief Raleigh Magazine
Full staffs, full houses, full bellies—happy community from all angles.