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Ann Arbor Restaurant Chefs Talk About Supporting Local Dining Industry In Latest Inside Dining Pause

Nov 17, 2020

(From L to R) Lala's executive chef Allie Lyttle and Miss Kim's restaurant owner Ji Hye Kim.
Credit Allie Lyttle/Ji Hye Kim

Two Ann Arbor restaurant chefs say they plan to "pivot and roll with the punches" in light of the latest order by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to pause indoor restaurant dining for the next three weeks to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Lisa Barry talks with Ji Hye Kim of Miss Kim's Korean Restaurant and Allie Lyttle of the recently opened Lala's Restaurant--both in Ann Arbor--about the impact of the pandemic and the recent decision and what the local community can do to support all restaurants in the area at this time.


Outside dining at Miss Kim's Korean Restaurant in Ann Arbor
Credit Katie Jozwiak / Miss Kim's Restaurant

Both Ann Arbor restaurant chefs admit the entire pandemic has been difficult for their businesses, but neither said they were surprised by the Governor's latest move to "pause" indoor dining for three weeks.  Both advocated for the passage of a restaurant financial support bill in Congress to help struggling restaurants out at this time.

They say ordering food to go, purchasing gift cards, and supporting Ann Arbor restaurants on social media are ways to help try and keep them in business during this global health crisis.

Inside Lala's Restaurant in Ann Arbor.
Credit Allie Lyttle / Lala's Restaurant

After the interview was recorded, it was announced that the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Governor's latest order.  Here is how each guest responded to that:

Ji Hye Kim says: 

"The restaurants are especially in a hard place right now, I certainly feel the pain too.  But I disagree with suing the MDHHS for trying to curb the spread of the virus.  The shutdown of indoor dining is recommended by the doctors and scientists.  The restaurants and other small businesses need government help to weather the storm, not play roadblocks to public health policy.  It's not good business to risk the health and lives of our guests and staff." 

Miss Kim's Fried Chicken Dinner.
Credit Katie Jozwiak / Miss Kim's Restaurant

Allie Lyttle agrees, adding:

"I absolutely feel the frustration and the fear of shutting down in room dining, but suing is the last thing we need right now."  

Pancakes from Lala's.
Credit Allie Lyttle / Lala's Restaurant

You can check out Miss Kim's Restaurant at its website.  Lala's Restaurant can be found online here and be followed on Instagram here and here.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu