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Former owner says pandemic sped up new paths to success in restaurant industry

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A successful restaurant owner sold his business, as he is now convinced the pandemic has changed the industry forever. (KUTV)

A successful restaurant owner sold his business, as he is now convinced the pandemic has changed the industry forever.

“In September, we made the decision to try and reinvent ourselves and the pandemic had hit us hard,” said Thomas Kreitlow.

Six months ago, Kreitlow and his wife sold the chain of restaurants they spent the last five years building from scratch.

“We got to the point where we felt it was time to try to do something else because the market had changed so much,” Kreitlow said.

Kreitlow is now an owner in a hummus company and a shared cooking space company called Luma.

Kreitlow described Luma as a central location that will be shared by several food vendors, each offering their own options to customers who can dine-in, have it delivered or grab-and-go.

I think we're just becoming a more efficient society in general, and I think the pandemic has kind of sped that along,” Kreitlow said.

Restaurant owners didn't know how they were going to survive when the economy hit a brick wall this time last year — and some didn't.

“It was just a crazy experience where they had to react in hours on how to change everything," said Michele Corigliano, the executive director of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association.

To stay alive, restaurants had to quickly switch to take out and delivery, but for some that is not sustainable.

Corigliano believes there's still a market for restaurants to offer dine-in only service.

“In the last couple months, we've seen Utahns going out and taking care of our restaurants," Corigliano said.

Corigliano noted the Salt Lake County Health Department received 155 new restaurant applications in 2020 adding

“I think that it will rebound without a question or else people wouldn't be opening up new restaurants," Corigliano said.

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