The White House announced on April 14 the creation of “economic stimulus industry groups,” made up of more than 200 “executives, economists, academics and industry leaders” who will serve as a sounding board for the White House’s attempt to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The food and beverage group in particular is made up almost entirely of executives from large restaurant chains, industry associations, food and beverage manufacturers, and some renowned chef-restaurateurs.
Here is the list of brands and operators as diverse as:
- Marvin Irby, Interim CEO of the National Restaurant Association
- McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski
- Darden Restaurants (parent company of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Capital Grille) CEO Gene Lee Jr.
- James Quincey, CEO of Coca-Cola
- PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta
- Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy
- Subway CEO John Chidsey
- Bloomin ‘Brands (parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill) CEO David Deno
- YUM! Brands (parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) CEO David Gibbs
- Papa John CEO Rob Lynch
- Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor
- Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer
- Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson
- Wolfgang washer
- Thomas keller
- Jean-Georges Vongerichten
- Daniel Boulud
- Ray Washburne, Co-Founder of Restaurant M Crowd (Member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board)
- Jimmy John Founder Jimmy John Liautaud
With these new additions added to the roster on April 15th:
- Kraft Senior Vice President of Corporate and Government Affairs Michael Mullen
- Dirk Van Dongen, CEO of the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors
- CEO of the International Franchise Association, Robert Cresanti
- Inspire Brands (parent company of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic, Jimmy John’s) CEO Paul Brown
Overall, the makeup of this industry group doesn’t seem too different from attendees on President Trump’s restaurant industry conference call in mid-March, which included executives from chains and companies like McDonald’s USA. , Domino’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Papa John’s, Wendy’s, Restaurant Brand International, Bloomin ‘Brands, YUM! Brands, Raising Cane’s and Darden Restaurants.
This call was critical by restaurateurs so as not to include a single independent operator. The White House’s response to this criticism has apparently been to add four chef-owners – Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud – all known for their experience in French cuisine, their restaurant empires across the country. countries, and their positions in the highest echelons of fame, fame and opportunity in the industry. They were also, coincidentally, the only chefs known to have been able to organize a call with Trump to discuss the restaurant owner’s battle over business interruption insurance and other effects of COVID-19 on independent restaurants.
It is remarkable, as some observed on social networks, that the White House’s hand-picked representatives of the food and beverage industry – at least, those who agreed to be involved – are almost devoid of people of color and entirely devoid of women. (Meanwhile, there are two Dans and two Davids.) Even more pressing is the fact that the interests of the everyday waiter, the immigrant cook, the independent mom-and-pop restaurateur – essentially the working class whose work underpins the entire business of how consumers eat and drink – are sorely lacking.
And yet, you have to ask yourself, what were we expecting? There is little integrity to be found in sniffing the White House’s misguided attempts to restore the economy and a sense of normalcy at a deeply abnormal time, when a false start could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus and force the country to shut down. isolate themselves again. Either way, it makes perfect sense that the executives who advise the president are big chains – who take advantage of limited pool Payroll Protection Program loans to help small businesses – and kings of the industry who are best known for being part of an old-fashioned restaurant generation.
Eater has contacted the four restaurateurs for comment. This post will be updated with any statements we receive.