Restaurateur calls COVID-19 shutdown a knee-jerk reaction

Jason Davis, owner of MayMoes restaurant in Logan, estimates that it will take 18 months for his business to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus shut-down.

LOGAN – There may be a future in politics for Jason Davis, the owner of MayMoes Cajun Grill in Logan.

Davis was the star of a recent podcast by the Katie Witt for Congress campaign and the local restaurateur’s comments made more sense than some of the rhetoric coming from state officials.

“From the beginning of this coronavirus outbreak, I’ve been totally pro-choice,” Davis explained. “If you choose to stay at home, stay home. If you choose to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you choose to wait in your car (for curbside delivery of food), wait in your car. We’ll accommodate you whatever you choose …

“I say do whatever you want to do. But I’m against this state-imposed shutdown. I think it was an over-reaction. If the state wanted to hit the pause button for 72 hours to figure out what was going on, I’m fine with that. But shutting everything down for weeks was wrong.”

The Utah COVID-19 Task Force authorized Cache County businesses and restaurants to move to a Yellow/Low risk level for the coronavirus on May 15, with most of the rest of the state following a day later. But Davis said that the economic damage caused the state-mandated shutdown of local businesses – which began in mid-March – is already done.

“Since this shutdown began,” Davis said, “I’ve paid $15,000 in business taxes to the state. So, the state tells you not to open your business and tells your customers to stay home to be safe. Then the same people turn around and say ‘where’s our tax money?’”

A native of Louisiana, Davis moved to Cache Valley in 2016 and founded his southern Cajun grill shortly thereafter. The restaurant was recently featured on a segment on the cable TV channel Food Network.

“Small business owners are really people who are living the American dream,” said Witt during the May 16 podcast. She is the mayor of Kaysville and is running for the Republican nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop in Congress. “But we’re making that way too hard for them. The government is trying to protect people so much that we’re killing them economically.”

Cache County officials have also lent credence to Davis’ assessment of the adverse economic impact of the coronavirus shut-down. In a May 5 letter to Gov. Gary Herbert pleading for a regional loosening of the statewide COVID-19 restrictions, the members of the Cache County Council wrote that “Despite creative delivery efforts … local restaurants are seeing a 60 to 70 percent loss of business.”

“Several of our local and prestigious restaurants have closed and we are not sure if they will reopen,” the council members added.

Davis said that MayMoes stayed open for home and curbside deliveries during even the most restrictive period of the economic shutdown. But that wasn’t exactly a money-making proposition.

“Since this thing started,” the restaurant owner explained, “I’ve paid $2,000 a month for to-go boxes. Since people stopped paying with cash, because they thought cards were safer, I’m paying three percent to the credit card companies on every purchase … And if I can get food from suppliers now, the cost has tripled … So, you get hit with all these additional costs at the same time that your business is off by 50 percent because the governor is telling everybody to stay at home.

“I’m not bad-mouthing the governor. I respect Gov. Herbert. But I still think this shut-down was a knee-jerk action.”

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  • KA May 18, 2020 at 9:26 am Reply

    Yes, science is the enemy. Start drinking bleach and go back to work.

    • TD May 18, 2020 at 10:39 am Reply

      Wow, that’s not at all what Jason said! READ the numbers he and other SMALL businesses have faced! Are you going to walk into a small business and say “Hey I know how bad you’ve been a hit. Let me buy a bunch of your product or service and by the way here is an extra $1,000.00!”? Look at the numbers in the letter that was referred to from the council! Read what this panic has done not only to businesses here in the valley but to the people! PANIC alone has taken 2 lives here in Cache Valley yet, the virus count is what??? O’yeah a big 0! Not to mention the 95% increase of domestic violence and CHILD ABUSE!

    • B.RIGHTBACK May 18, 2020 at 2:41 pm Reply


  • Clint May 18, 2020 at 10:06 am Reply

    This is headline news? Some random restaurant owner and his opinion? All because he spoke on some podcast? Even if I don’t agree with is assessment he is entitled to his opinion but that is not journalism.

    • Jason May 18, 2020 at 10:29 pm Reply

      Amen my friend

  • Gretchen Hasenoehrl May 18, 2020 at 10:55 am Reply

    Jason Davis does so much in our community. He has often opened his restaurant to charity causes and continues to support local grassroots movements to feed the hungry and create an environment of taking care of the those in times of need. A comment above called Jason “some random restaurant owner”… That is such a callous, uneducated comment regarding the impact Jason has for Cache Valley. If you have not started and attempted to run a small business, trying to take care of your responsibilities towards your vendors, your local, state and federal governments, your employees, and your own family based on your endeavors, please refrain from commenting negatively towards those that are genuinely trying to make a difference.

    • Clint May 18, 2020 at 5:03 pm Reply

      The article does not mention anything about what he does for the community. The article is all about HIS opinion on the shutdown. Why do we need to have a headline article about his opinion? What makes his more important than mine or yours?

      Now an article about what he has done for the local community would be journalism.

  • Becca May 18, 2020 at 11:55 am Reply

    These articles are so helpful in determining which businesses I will keep supporting. Thanks!

    • Lilianna June 7, 2020 at 4:04 pm Reply

      Agreed. Although, I’ve never eaten at MayMoe’s before so it’s not like they’ll be losing my business.

  • Macklin May 18, 2020 at 12:43 pm Reply

    I hear everything being said in this article, I believe. I even agree with a lot of it. I also agree with some of the comments. For me, personally, the issue is more about realizing how little precedent there is for this, how little experience, if any, our leaders at any government level have with this. To Jason’s point of “put it on pause for 3 days”, can anything like this really be figured out in 3 days? Much like his business, there are so many layers and complications to the decisions. Im glad im not the one making them for large groups of people. It will never be possible to please everyone all the time in any endeavor. People try to make the best decisions they can at the time they are required for as many of the people they are charged to serve as they can. I havent liked any of this shutdown either. Ive lost my fair share and then some. Is it possible to allow differing opinions, to see different experiences, to offer understanding and compassion and draw together still? Why should everything be a cause for divide? Just my opinions

  • Jared May 18, 2020 at 2:27 pm Reply

    He should ask the families of the 90,000 dead if its a knee jerk reaction.

    • HS May 18, 2020 at 7:46 pm Reply

      Perfectly said.

    • jason May 18, 2020 at 10:36 pm Reply

      Nope, when my employee got scammed for $850 I posted on my in fb page “if you are eating out tonight please think about us” a far distance from what you just said. I closed the 1400 n store because I could not find anyone to run it with our standards. You seem like I hurt you personally.

    • Jason May 18, 2020 at 10:38 pm Reply

      As sad as it is they died, even with what I called a knee jerk reaction. So I’m not sure about your comment.

    • Mike May 20, 2020 at 8:49 am Reply

      The 90,000 don’t live in Cache Valley. If you were to shut everything down in Cache Valley because Bosnia lost 90,000 it would be a knee jerk reaction. His point is it should be handled regionally. Your comment points out how a one-size-fits all approach is the path of least resistance because its easy and I can make a great one-liner “ask the families . . .” But that’s not leadership. Leadership requires determining the best mode forward for the stewardship you lead. I agree with Jason that just pulling the trigger and not determining the best path forward was knee-jerk and based off of fear, not science. It was not only the restaurants that have suffered here – the medical community had to shut down completely so that we could hospitalize 8 people in the valley. Everything shut down for the “flattening of the curve”. Problem was the curve was completely flat from the get go in our area and there should have been a different solution and not a knee jerk reaction.

  • Ben May 18, 2020 at 4:42 pm Reply

    They were also going to take months to recover when an employee fell for a scam and lost $700. Went to your 1400 north store a few times before it opened/closed. Always told they were out of food. Maybe you’ve picked the wrong business

    • jason May 18, 2020 at 10:34 pm Reply

      Nope, when my employee got scammed for $850 I posted on my in fb page “if you are eating out tonight please think about us” a far distance from what you just said. I closed the 1400 n store because I could not find anyone to run it with our standards. You seem like I hurt you personally.

  • Free Bird May 18, 2020 at 5:35 pm Reply

    I think it was a knee jerk reaction personally. Every year 10,000 to 61,000 people die every year of the flu. Back in 1969 over 100,000 Americans died of the Hong Kong Virus, and the population was probably half of what it is today. Nothing was closed by the government, nobody wore masks or did the social distancing thingy, which in my opinion is a joke.
    The only thing that has changed, is the size of our government, and the news media which is pretty much all a bunch of liberals. It’s surprising how many people actually believe all the B.S. they see on their TV’s!
    Read the book by George Orwell (1984), we are currently living it, George would be so proud!

  • M May 18, 2020 at 8:18 pm Reply

    If you “choose” not to wear a mask, you endanger me. That’s dangerous and irresponsible. And especially selfish to those working to keep grocery stores and other truly essential places open.

  • Lisa White May 18, 2020 at 9:16 pm Reply

    I too think this Coronavirus is overrated!! I don’t think we needed to shutdown the Valley for 2 months. Totally ridiculous!! I can see maybe shutting the restaurants down for dining in maybe a week or so until another resolution was found but 2 months is way too long. Closing stores is utterly ridiculous!!

  • Tyson May 18, 2020 at 10:10 pm Reply

    Anyone saying they are “worried about the economy” but also adopt an anti mask, anti distancing indoors is just plain delusional. I’m sure the economy will be booming with overwhelmed hospital systems and sick medical staff! Since all society relies on those services it is all society’s problem.

    Also closing for 72 hours certainly wasn’t long enough to determine the nature of the threat. Do restaurants take 72 hours to go from that first loan to open? We are fortunate this disease has been less dangerous than it initially appeared, and the state is doing a great job opening things up. But if you really care about the economy, you wear the mask.

  • Herm May 19, 2020 at 7:29 am Reply

    I’m a bit disappointed in Mr. Davis’ observations. If he was confronted by competent medical counsel (as the Governor was) that the shut-down was needed to save the lives of Utahns (which I think it did), he might also ‘knee-jerk’ in favor of health over profit.

  • Tyler Sadler May 19, 2020 at 1:33 pm Reply

    They should have let the people decide what they want to do.

    I’m old enough to make up my mind.

  • MPO May 20, 2020 at 8:25 am Reply

    While I love Maymoe’s, Jason Davis has done nothing but cry about how this pandemic is affecting HIM. I’m so sorry he’s got extra costs, but so many people are completely out of work, loved ones are in homes and they can’t visit, and SO MUCH MORE. I’m sorry your business is struggling, but you’ve only convinced me to skip Maymoe’s for dinner. I walked out of Sam’s Club one day to find Jason in the parking lot with a cart full of to-go containers, voice at a full whine to some poor woman about how the costs of containers are ruining his business. Do math better, business owner. Pass the cost to the customers like every other business. He’s part of the problem and his attitude is losing him customers.

  • ScienceGeek May 20, 2020 at 4:17 pm Reply

    Some of the comments here are reflective of a common public health paradox. If you do things right, people will say that you over reacted.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but the world reacted to this pandemic based on the facts, as interpreted by those who have spent their entire lives evaluating data like this. Do people really think that none of the epidemiologists in the world made comparisons with the average flu? With the Spanish Flu? Really?

    All these people do, all day everyday, is examine numbers like this. It is what they do. There is no reason why all of these experts would collectively come to the same decision if it wasn’t for the public interest, there is not collective motive. The breadth of motives is simply too diverse.

    Why were they so worried? There are many reasons, but it gets down to R0, the average number of people infected by every person with the disease. The R0 for COVID-19, without the measures that were put in place, was estimated to be just shy of 3, now revised to be more like 5.7 ( For comparison, the R0 for the swine flu (H1N1, before vaccine) was 1.4 to 1.6, the R0 for seasonal flu is ~1.5, the 1918 flu pandemic was devastated the world was close with an R0 of 1.4 to 2.8.

    We all saw the results of all of this. Remember how fast this disease spread? It only took a couple of weeks to move from a non-issue to a global problems on the way to becoming a worldwide calamity.

    The reason it didn’t is because the experts knew that this was different and the entire world reacted appropriately. The people who help guide these very tough decisions should be lauded, instead they are ignorantly criticized by people who know absolutely nothing about the underlying science.

    The is not government on Earth who wanted to see their economy suffer, this is not in their interest. They made these hard decisions because they knew they had to. They had no choice.

    Please let the health professionals make statements about what is appropriate and stick to what you do. The absolute selfishness behind these comments is astounding.

    Under normal circumstances, such ignorance can be dismissed. These are obviously not normal circumstances. It is incredibly irresponsible for any publication to spread such unsubstantiated opinions.

    What makes me the most sad, is that I used to love Mae Moes.

  • M Rasmussen May 21, 2020 at 6:11 am Reply

    I normally don’t eat out. Our family is too big for us to pay for it. However, during this time when restaurants were struggling we bought food from somewhere every week. This was a huge sacrifice on our part as my business was down as well. One of these establishments was MayMoes where I paid $40 for our food.
    Please be careful associating your opinion with your business. Another business has lost my business because of this during this pandemic.

  • Allen Davenport May 22, 2020 at 8:58 pm Reply

    People if this is that bad of a virus after lock down why did they not stop all travel really let’s use our brains

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