Detroit's Punch Bowl Social lays off 97 staffers 'permanently' but plans to reopen

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Punch Bowl Social, a fixture of downtown Detroit's restaurant scene since 2014, has "permanently" laid off 97 staffers during Michigan's coronavirus outbreak, but says it plans to reopen in the future.

The coronavirus has killed more than 3,300 people in Michigan since March 10. A series of stay-home mandates have been issued since, and the closure of dine-in restaurants has been in place since mid-March. 

Punch Bowl Social is a 24,000-square-foot restaurant and bar with a bowling alley and arcade on Broadway that can hold about 850 people. 

"We anticipate high volumes," founder Robert Thompson told The News when the restaurant opened. "The location is a nice combination between the town center and the sports arenas."

In a letter to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, Punch Bowl Social says the layoffs are "permanent," and date back to March 16, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered dine-in restaurants closed.

More:Along with dine-in locations, Whitmer closes theaters, gyms, libraries

"The company will be carrying out a mass layoff regarding its employees working at this location. The layoff is expected to be permanent. The layoff results from the unexpected and unforeseen business circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disaster," the letter reads in part. 

Punch Bowl Social in Detroit says it will reopen, but will have to start with a new staff.

"When the government allows restaurants and bars to reopen, the company will determine appropriate timing to hire and train new staff," wrote Johanne Ladis, a spokeswoman for the company, in an email to The News.

The Detroit location was Punch Bowl Social's fourth when it opened, after Portland, Denver and Austin. According to its website, there are now 20.

Punch Bowl Social did not immediately respond to a request for comment.