People to Watch: Carrie Leishman
President & CEO, Delaware Restaurant Association
Delaware Restaurant Association President & CEO Carrie Leishman is not afraid to raise her voice. In a rollercoaster year for the state’s thousands of restaurateurs, chefs, and servers, she has spoken out in defense of the struggling industry since COVID-19 has forced new capacity requirements and restrictions.
While Gov. John Carney and his administration have become the public face of the pandemic’s response, Leishman has become the megaphone to ensure the industry’s concerns are heard and considered. The DRA’s effective social media presence has drawn attention to the First State as restaurateurs struggle in the unprecedented year.
Leishman is having conversations with state officials on behalf of Delaware’s estimated 4,000 food establishments in a constantly changing environment. While the first reopening phases allowed for breathing room, she believes that the industry has been vilified for the state’s worsening public health crisis despite restaurants’ best efforts.
The industry was battered with limited indoor seating to meet social distancing requirements, bar seating removed in beach town establishments and ultimately roll backs of capacity ahead of a winter surge. But Leishman has pressed on, and her organization created the Restaurant E.A.T.s (Emergency Action Trust) to provide grants to those in the hospitality industry.
Restaurants serve as the community cornerstone, and those in Delaware have lost $900 million and shed thousands of jobs. But with hope that the coronavirus will subside in the coming months, Leishman will be one to watch as the industry starts to rebuild itself.