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.”