Detroit's Punch Bowl Social permanently lays off 97 staff members due to COVID-19 crisis 

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It was announced Monday that Punch Bowl Social has laid off 97 staffers at its downtown Detroit location amid COVID-19 closures.

Opened in 2014, the 24,000-square-foot bar, arcade, restaurant, bowling alley, and karaoke space on Broadway Street has been closed since mid-March after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered all bars and restaurants to discontinue dine-in service.

According to a letter addressed to the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth in March reported by The Detroit News, Punch Bowl Social's Detroit location expects the layoffs of its 97 employees — including servers, chefs, line cooks, and hosts — to be permanent as a result of "the unexpected and unforeseen business circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Billed as “a place where guests are treated like rock stars and rock stars are treated like guests,” Punch Bowl Social was among the first major downtown developments following Detroit's 2013 bankruptcy filing, spending more than $5 million to build out the two-story Bedrock-owned space.

Punch Bowl Social is owned by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant chain. Last month, Cracker Barrel announced that it will not save Punch Bowl Social's 19 locations, all of which are currently closed and endured mass layoffs, from foreclosure, citing “substantial uncertainties.”

Michigan restaurants reportedly lost more than $491 million in sales and 72,000 jobs during the first 22 days in March. It is expected that 1 out of 3 dining establishments will not survive the pandemic and its massive economic impact.

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