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Industry Experts Predict Austin Restaurant Headlines for 2021

What could be in store for the local restaurant industry next year?

Beef birria from Mi Dulce Mexico in Jackson Heights, New York
Beef birria from Mi Dulce Mexico in Jackson Heights, New York
Robert Sietsema/ENY

As is the tradition as we near the end of 2020, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. Given the insanity of this year, Eater has adapted the standard survey into one the reflects the new realities of takeout, restaurant shutters, and a shaky industry. All answers will be revealed before the year ends — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Question number six:

What are your headline predictions for 2021?

Raphael Brion, Texas editor, The Infatuation, and former editor of Eater
Birria Frenzy Reaches Sriracha-Level As National Chains Co-Opt It Completely

2020 Was the Year of Birria Ramen: 2021 Will Be the Year of Nonstop Birria Mashups

Katie Friel, editor, CultureMap Austin
Congress Bypasses Big Oil to Bail Out Small Businesses Instead

Texas Lawmakers Finally Tap Rainy Day Fund to Actually Help Texans

Hopefully this year, our state lawmakers pass a small business bailout before, you know, going after women’s rights again.

Lenny Dewi, @eats_n_noods and Eater contributing writer
My headline prediction for 2021 is that more people will have private dining experiences at home, like hiring a chef for a dinner party. Chefs that have furloughed during COVID-19 have found ways to continue to cook and bring their cooking by having pick-up days or their dishes delivered to their customers.

Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
Survival of the fittest. 2020 was a rough year, but I think we’re just starting to see the economic impact of COVID-19 on the city of Austin and our restaurant industry.

Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
We’ll say goodbye to a few more beloved restaurants before the winter is done. But by late summer or early fall of 2021, once vaccinations are going strong and new COVID cases are falling, we will be back to the same crazy scene we kissed goodbye in March of 2020. Prices will be higher, to make up for a year of unprecedented losses. Restaurants need the money; customers need the scene. I wish restaurants would divide their spaces into loud and quiet areas, if they possibly could. I for one am sick to death of the noise.

Robert Jacob Lerma, photographer for Eater Austin and others
Sadly, more closures. Without any assistance and with herd immunity still months away, it’ll be a challenge for many places to stay open. I hope I’m wrong.

Erin Russell, associate editor of Eater Austin
The Bloodbath is Not Over: Restaurants Still in Trouble for 2021

Your Favorite Local Restaurant Closes Because You, Personally, Did Not Order From There Enough

Government Almost Gets Its Shit Together For a Restaurant Relief Bill, Then Argues Into Oblivion for Nine Months

Did You Love the Defunct Taco Bell Items Pop-Up? Wait Until You See Recreated Gattitown

Matthew Bolick Serves Another Incredible Food Item Via Drone Delivery or Some Shit And We All Love the Brand’s Cheeky Instagram Voice

Sarah Engstrand, contributing writer, Eater Austin

I think there will be a lot more collaborations and pop-ups in the new year, as restaurants try to lure people back out with interesting offerings.

Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
City of Austin Pulls Through and Offers Substantial Aid to All Local Service Workers and Restaurants/Bars/Food Trucks/Food Businesses

[Insert National/Corporate Restaurant Chain] Takes Over Beloved [Insert Small, Locally Owned Restaurant]’s Space (please, please, please don’t let this happen)

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