Why Would Anyone Open a Restaurant in a Pandemic?

The Covid baby boom that many people predicted last year has not happened, but another kind of baby boom is underway. Restaurants and food businesses have been born during the pandemic at a rate that almost no one predicted a year ago, when dining rooms across the United States were ordered to close.

After a steep plunge that reached its lowest point last April, openings have bounced back nearly to prepandemic levels, according to a year-end analysis by Yelp. The company reported that 18,207 restaurants and food businesses were first listed on its service during the last three months of 2020, just 4 percent less than in the same period in 2019. In one category, “grab-and-go services,” including food trucks and bakeries, new listings even went up.

Starting a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic may sound about as ill-advised as going for a cruise in a

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