A natural disaster can have a dramatic impact on a business.


Building a business is hard work as is, but when the unthinkable happens, it can make a tough situation even tougher. There are many things a business owner can control, but weather simply isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, disaster can strike at the most inopportune moments.

In recent news, Hurricane Irma hit Florida between August 30 and September 16, pounding the local restaurant industry in the process.

In the wake of flooding and power outages, many restaurants have had to close their doors until recovery efforts are underway.

The community is eager to get back on its feet, but with so much work to do, it may be some time until it is fully restored.

How did Irma affect the restaurant industry? Here is an overview.

What Was The Impact Of The Storm?

Per Nation’s Restaurant News, thousands of restaurant locations closed due to flooding and power outages in Florida and even as far north as Charleston, South Carolina.

With widespread damage, recovery could take a while. Finding a contractor can be particularly difficult when there are so many businesses requiring help.

Rob Gould, vice president of FPL said Florida’s West Coast could be without power for weeks because of the need to rebuild their electric grid from scratch. No power means some restaurants will stay closed for some time to come.

In addition, here are several ways in which various chains have been affected by Irma:

  • Waffle House is assessing damages, and noted that many of their locations are without power.
  • Zoe’s Kitchen Inc. had to close 23 locations.
  • Subway said most of its 1,500 locations remain closed.
  • Per Business Insider, these restaurant chains were hit the hardest by Irma: Sonic, Dairy Queen, Buffalo Wild Wings, Seasons 52, Ruby Tuesday, Longhorn Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel, and Steak ‘n Shake.

As you can see, the impact of the storm was devastating.

How Should Restaurant Businesses Respond In A Situation Like This?

It’s hard to know exactly how to respond to a situation like this. Natural disasters have no regard for the rhythm of business life, and can wreak havoc on one’s plans. The best thing one can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

But some companies, such as Panda Express, have stepped up to make a difference in the community. They made a commitment to continue to pay their 1,000 plus employees during restaurant closures. They are also looking to raise $4 million for hurricane relief, and $3 million through in-store donations.

An initiative like this may not be possible for every business affected by the hurricane. But if there are ways you can help your employees, the community, and relief efforts, it can be a great way to ease the burden and show your compassionate spirit. This can also boost your brand within the community, though when doing good, you should still do it for the right reasons.


Recent hurricanes have affected a lot of people and a lot of businesses – not just the restaurant industry. There are some things you can do to prepare for an eventuality such as this, but ultimately you don’t know what the outcome of a disaster will be and how much damage you’ll need to deal with. What you can control is how you respond – and how you respond is perhaps the most important thing of all.

We all go through hardship and difficulty. And in times like this, the people of affected areas require a great deal of support and help. But it’s what we do with the challenges that come our way that truly counts.