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A 2021 Wishlist for Dallas’s Restaurant Industry

At the top of the list: to-go cocktails forever, and a more equitable industry

To-go cocktails, like these boozy frozens from Las Almas Rotas, should definitely still be a thing once this godforsaken pandemic is over
Las Almas Rotas/Facebook

At the end of a brutal year, there is still reason to be hopeful about the months ahead. As 2020 finally winds down, Eater reached out to the city’s top restaurant writers and chefs with an important question: What is your biggest hope for the restaurant industry in 2021?

In this installment of our Year in Eater coverage, read what Dallas restaurant obsessives are hoping for in the new year, ranging from better working conditions for people in the service industry to a return to a new normal in which restaurants can thrive.

Erin Booke, food and entertainment editor, Dallas Morning News: I hope that diners go back out in full force to support restaurants - the smaller, independent ones - once this pandemic is over, and I think they will. This year has really pulled the curtain back, and I think diners now have a greater appreciation for the industry and the kind of hustle it takes to run a restaurant.

Jill Bergus, owner, Lockhart Smokehouse: Everyone would be kind. Everyone is under stress and life is weird, but people it’s a pandemic, lets all just offer each other grace.

Ji Kang, chef, Sloane’s Corner: I hope that chefs, managers, and restauranteurs have a better appreciation for their employees who have stuck around and been completely loyal through these difficult times. Sometimes it’s not all about the money, but more about the people you work with. We’ve seen so much of our community crumble, but our staff has really been working hard to begin serving Dallas safely again. I only hope others can do the same.

Andrea Meyer, chef/owner, Bisous Bisous Patisserie: My hope is that the independent restaurants that make our scene so interesting and diverse can survive the pandemic.

Suki Otsuki, chef, Meddlesome Moth: Survival.

Brian Luscher, culinary director, 33 Restaurant Group: I hope everybody can pay their rent. I hope there is an investment in quality of life balance for all, and I hope that everyone is able to not just get by, but enjoy a level of prosperity.

Brian Reinhart, critic, Dallas Observer: That we’re all still alive and healthy and able to get cocktails together in twelve months. That people who can still afford restaurant meals all tip at least 30%. Anything beyond that is gravy on top.

Matt Balke, chef, Encina: That we are all still around in 2021. This shit isn’t over yet.

Leslie Brenner, consultant and former Dallas Morning News food critic: That we can make great strides in creating a much more equitable, sustainable, humane system — one with a strong foundation and sounder business model — as quickly as possible.

Rachel Pinn, contributor, Eater Dallas: I hope the little guys survive and we’re not just stuck with a bunch of Mi Cocinas and McDonald’s.

Teresa Gubbins, senior editor, CultureMap: I hope that the restaurant industry receives more respect for the role it plays in our culture and economy.

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