THU AM News: Food Fight reevaluates business model to stay afloat post pandemic; Promega surpasses all environmental improvement goals for end of 2020

— Food Fight Restaurant Group is looking at changes to its business model from employee salary to building structure in order to stay afloat post pandemic. 

“We need to change and educate. It’s our fault, but we have taught guests to expect large portions, farm-to-table food and low prices,” said Greg Frank, managing partner of Food Fight. “In the best of times that’s a dicey model, and at times like this it’s a disaster.”

He told a Madison Rotary Club meeting yesterday that in a good year, restaurants make about a 5 percent profit, “leaving little room for error.” But the COVID-19 pandemic changed things rapidly. Frank noted tens of thousands of restaurants have closed nationwide. Madison lost some of its favorite locations, too.

“Our sales are half of what they were last year,” he said. “Come October if we’re not able to seat indoors, it’ll be a tough winter. So I’m really hopeful for a vaccine.”

Food Fight’s 21 businesses employed 1,000 employees pre-pandemic. It had to lay off about two-thirds of its staff, and is still not back up to previous employment numbers. 

Frank explained that just like every other full-service business, restaurants had to come up with a new business model overnight: expanding delivery, online ordering, curbside pickup, partnerships and lobbying for personal protective equipment. Food Fight had to negotiate with its banks and landlords in order to stay afloat — all while making sure its staff and customers were safe. 

Read the full story at 

— Promega Corporation announced it has surpassed all its environmental improvement goals set for the end of 2020 and achieved absolute reductions in key sustainability metrics.

In early 2016, Promega determined environmental improvement goals that it wanted to meet by the end of 2020. These goals were based on 2015 data. Promega met and exceeded its goals by the end of 2019, according to Corey Meek, who heads Promega’s corporate responsibility program.

Promega is currently in the process of setting its next environment improvement goals “focusing heavily on renewable energy to further reduce our carbon footprint,” Meek told “Energy efficiency is another we are targeting.”

Meek attributed Promega’s success to its employees. 

“Individuals across the company globally are recognizing ways to be more efficient in how we use energy and resources, ship our products and engage with customers,” he said. “It’s this heightened awareness and synergy that’s propelling an immense amount of progress toward meeting our environmental sustainability goals.”

Read the entire 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report PDF here: 

— Bert Sartori takes over as president of Sartori, a fourth-generation specialty cheese brand rooted in Plymouth, Wisconsin. 

Jeff Schwager, who has served as president since 2009, will transition to CEO. Third-generation CEO, Jim Sartori, will transition to chair of the board. 

“I have tremendous confidence in Bert and his team as they continue our company’s vision (of) Great Cheese on Every Plate,” Jim Sartori said. 

Bert Sartori, who holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, is a licensed cheesemaker and has over 15 years of experience in finance, operations and business development.  His previous role at Sartori was the executive vice president of sales and marketing. 

“Looking ahead, we want to continue our mission of striving to Make the Best Cheese in the World by investing in our Team Members, constantly innovating and holding true to our core values,” Bert Sartori said. “Success to me is when I can pass along our cheesemaking traditions to generation five of the Sartori family and continue to brighten the day of people across the world by creating and serving great cheese.”

— The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services completed inspections at the Amazon fulfillment center in Beloit, which is set to open this fall and provide over 500 full-time jobs to the community.

The 1.1 million square foot facility is Amazon’s third warehouse in Wisconsin.

Amazon reports that from 2010-2018, the company has invested more than $3 billion in Wisconsin through customer fulfillment infrastructure and compensation to employees in the state. Its investments contributed more than $1.6 billion into the state’s economy over that same time period and over 4,000 indirect jobs on top of Amazon’s direct hires, according to DSPS.

“We’re thrilled to be opening our new fulfillment center in Beloit this fall, providing more than 500 full-time jobs to the community,” said Amazon Site Manager for Beloit, Jason Berg. “We’re grateful to our partners at DSPS for their commitment to this project.”

According to DSPS, the 10-month project remained on schedule throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Construction was considered “essential” during the state’s public health emergency, and DSPS maintained its construction industry services. The department also noted that there were job site protocols, such as personal protective equipment requirements and on-site health screenings to protect workers. 

DSPS Secretary Dawn Crim said it was rewarding to see the facility opening and bringing “much-needed” jobs to Beloit. 

“Our staff has been adapting and innovating so that we could continue to support our customers despite the evolving pandemic and changing circumstances,” she said. “Construction is (a) vital industry, and we did what we needed to do to keep projects up and running. It was important to us, important to Amazon, and important to the Wisconsin economy.”

— The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports 870 new cases and a seven-day average of 886 cases per day, both figures up from the previous count.

The percentage of positive tests per total tests remains above the desired 5 percent — 5.9 percent, from 5.3 percent Tuesday, according to DHS.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 51,049 and active cases to 9,704 or 19 percent of the state’s total confirmed cases. Active cases are defined as those still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

The number of recovered patients number 40,416 or 79.2 percent and rising while 1.8 percent of patients have died. Patients have a 8.9 percent chance of being hospitalized. 

The state received 14,694 total tests; Wisconsin has a capacity for 24,156 tests per day. 

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 

— DHS reports five more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 911. 

Racine County reported two new deaths while Milwaukee, Rock and Washington counties each reported one more.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (429), Racine (75), Brown (50), Kenosha (51), Waukesha (48), Dane (35), Rock (26), Walworth (21), Washington (22), Ozaukee (16), Winnebago (16), Grant (14), Waupaca (14), Outagamie (12), Clark (7), Fond du Lac (7), Dodge (5), Sheboygan (5), Forest (4), Jefferson (4), Marathon (4) and Richland (4).

Barron, Door, Eau Claire, Marinette and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Kewaunee, Polk and St. Croix counties report two deaths each.

Bayfield, Burnett, Columbia, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, LaCrosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marquette, Monroe, Rusk, Trempealeau and Wood counties report one death each.

— Sixty-one Wisconsin counties are ranked high by DHS for COVID-19 activity, up three from last week.

Rusk and Florence counties are the only two in Wisconsin marked as low coronavirus activity. 

Counties seeing both an increased trend in cases and a high burden of cases are Barron, Lafayette, Langlade, Sheboygan, St. Croix, Washington, Waupaca, Waushara and Wood. 

The Fox Valley Area and Northwest Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition regions of Wisconsin are also labeled as both having a high case burden and a growing trajectory.

According to DHS the local and tribal health departments are to use this data, in conjunction with other local data, to help inform steps or precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

In terms of infection ratios, Milwaukee County has the state’s largest at 19.7 per 1,000 people. In one week, Milwaukee County added 1,992 new COVID-19 cases to its count, giving the county a cumulative total of 18,769 confirmed cases.

The second-largest infection ratio in the state is Racine County at 15.4 per 1,000 people. It added 272 cases in one week for a cumulative total of 2,739 confirmed cases. 

Brown County has an infection ratio of 14.83 per 1,000 people and a cumulative total of 3,855 confirmed COVID-19 cases after adding 226 cases in one week. Kenosha County’s infection ratio is 13.9 per 1,000 people and cases number 2,341 an increase of 239 cases in one week.

Iron (11.9), Walworth (10.7) and Trempealeau (9.5) are the only other counties that are above the state average infection ratio of 8.8 per 1,000 people. 

And in terms of cases, Dane County ranks second with 3,970 cumulative confirmed cases — an increase of 337 in one week. It has an infection ratio of 7.5 up from 6.9 last week. 

The only other counties with over 1,000 confirmed cases are Waukesha (3,284), Rock (1,325), Walworth (1,103) and Outagamie (1,008).  

See DHS’ data dashboard with county and HERC region breakdown here: 

— DHS took on 127 more facility-wide investigations this week. It’s now conducting 976 statewide.

Non-health care workplaces account for 384 of the current investigations, followed by 276 happening in long-term care facilities.

Long-term care facilities in the state are reporting 365 deaths due to COVID-19, making up 40 percent of total deaths in Wisconsin due to the virus. These include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, such as community-based residential facilities and residential care apartment complexes.

There are 97 active nursing home investigations.

Over 87 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients who have died in the state were age 60 or older.

Forty-five of the investigations are in group housing facilities including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories and group homes, which have seen 42 COVID-19 deaths, or 5 percent of the state’s total.

Two hundred and fifty-six deaths are categorized as “unknown,” meaning they may or may not have occurred at these facilities. According to DHS, the unknown category exists because relevant information has only been collected since April 8.

DHS is also conducting investigations in health care facilities (36) and “other settings” (235). A majority of the investigations are taking place in Milwaukee (172), Waukesha (104), Brown (93), Dane (89) and Kenosha (78) counties.

There have been a total of 1,570 investigations, with 594 investigations closed. An investigation is considered closed and removed from the DHS listing 28 days after the last positive case was confirmed.

Click here to see the nursing homes under investigation and a breakdown of investigations by county: 


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