Local Hospitality Company Rolls with the Punches
The Covid-19 pandemic has decimated the hospitality industry. For many companies, it’s become increasingly difficult to operate restaurants, hotels, golf courses, and event centers due to state-mandated restrictions on capacity. So, like any other business affected by Covid-19, Morrissey Hospitality Inc. has had to make significant operational shifts to stay afloat. In May, the company shuttered Pazzaluna, its popular long-running Italian eatery in downtown St. Paul.
But, fortunately, the company has a hand in multiple segments of the hospitality industry. Taking advantage of its diversified portfolio, Morrissey has found ways to stick it out over the last few months.
TCB recently spoke with Morrissey Hospitality President Richard Dobransky to discuss the company’s response to the pandemic.
TCB: How has your company been disrupted/affected by coronavirus?
Dobransky: We are managing the negative impacts this pandemic has created from both public safety and economic perspectives. The devastating effect on our employees is the hardest part. Our employees’ safety is paramount, and the lack of demand in the market – especially the hard-hit downtown areas – has forced us to make major adjustments to our operating plans. We’ve had to make significant reductions to our workforce in management, administration and hourly positions. More than 900 of our people have been impacted by this pandemic economically. We are making strategic, innovative changes to our business model to emerge from this more robust but very different than we were before. The effects of this pandemic within our industry will be with us for a long time to come.
Q: How has your company’s work had to change due to coronavirus?
A: Because we manage various brands and locations, we have taken an individualized approach for each property. We’ve implemented rigid protocols within our pandemic plans at a substantial cost to ensure that our employees and guests feel safe at our properties.
We’ve moved swiftly to provide the technology needed to allow working from home for those who are able. We’ve reimagined staff schedules and created more generalist job duties in response to our industry’s new realities. Every employee can do every job, including our remaining management team.
Q: How have employees and/or clients responded to changes?
A: Our current employees have been remarkably resilient over the past nine months. I don’t believe that I have seen anyone work harder. We employ people in a wide variety of jobs, from servers and janitors to hotel clerks and maintenance staff. These positions vary from on-call to part-time staff, both within collective bargaining agreements and not. We are so grateful for our committed team members who have made it possible to continue to operate during this time.
Q: Have you lost revenue because of the pandemic? Anything you’ve been able to do to compensate for lost work or create new streams of revenue?
A: Yes, we have lost significant revenue. We have been fortunate to have some locations remain open, such as our hotels, throughout the entire pandemic. April, May and June were the worst months we have ever seen in terms of occupancy and revenue. Morrissey Hospitality is fortunate to have a diverse portfolio in different markets and segments; this has enabled us to survive and be ready to rebound in the latter half of 2021. It’s not going to get better anytime soon without either a medical solution or an intervention from our federal government to aid our industry. Until then, we will depend on ourselves and watch our reserves carefully.
Q: Any bright spots in this crisis—support from clients, innovations coming out of the need to improvise, etc.?
A: The brightest spot amid this crisis is the constant reminder of our close-knit and supportive community throughout the upper Midwest, and especially here in the Twin Cities. Our state and local leaders have done what they can to support us during the pandemic. We’ve been doing our best to do the same in partnership with the community – from providing meals to first responders through the St. Paul Grill to partnering with Boys and Girls Clubs to make sure families have meals during this time of economic hardship. We feel lucky to be part of such incredible communities and continue doing what we can to give back.