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Waffle House CEO unloads on lockdowns and politicians who implement them: 'Not paying the same price'

'None of the people who make the decisions to shut down businesses and impact people's livelihoods ever have their own livelihood impacted'

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer did not mince words last week when he denounced coronavirus-related lockdowns and the leaders who implement the business-killing restrictions.

Speaking with Business Insider, Ehmer explained that he opposes lockdowns because of the severe impact they have on American workers.

"A lockdown is going to put a lot of people out of work," Ehmer said. "It's really not about the business — it's about the people. These people have jobs, they have livelihoods, they need to take care of their families."

Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer. (Jason Davis/Getty Images)

In fact, Ehmer pointed out that leaders who implement lockdowns, putting Americans out of work and creating more economic instability for those who are already not affluent, never have to feel the impact of their decisions.

"None of the people who make the decisions to shut down businesses and impact people's livelihoods ever have their own livelihood impacted," he said. "The people making the decisions are not paying the same price that the workers in this country are paying."

How has Waffle House fared?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted every segment of society; every person and business has been affected in some way. But Waffle House, the breakfast food restaurant chain spread across the eastern U.S., appears to have fared better than most.

Ehmer told Business Insider that there has not been a single documented case of COVID-19 spreading inside any Waffle House location.

"While the virus is surging in terms of number of cases, we haven't felt a tremendous impact to the business at this point," Ehmer explained.

In fact, fewer than two dozen Waffle Houses are currently closed due to the pandemic, and Ehmer said those restaurants are only closed because of government mandates. "The only reason we think that we would shut a dining room down at this point is if the local government made us do so," he said.

Unfortunately, however, the National Restaurant Association said in September that 100,000 American restaurants have shuttered their doors since the pandemic began. The organization also estimated that restaurants will have lost nearly one-quarter trillion dollars in revenue by year's end.

What about stimulus?

Politicians believe that additional economic stimulus will help businesses fare the the economic rollercoaster of the pandemic.

But Ehmer warned that government stimulus is only a band-aid.

"The stimulus helped a lot of restaurants and more importantly a lot of people early on. But, what you can't value enough is someone's peace of mind and security that they have a job that they can count on," Ehmer said. "Governments can't replace all of the salaries in the economy that you want to shut down. We've got to find safe ways to move forward."

One last thing…
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