After two days of rain, we dry out thanks to a sunny forecast and temperatures reaching the 60s.

Today, we look at the irrevocable effects of the pandemic on Philly’s restaurant industry and the emergence of more workers playing a central role in the process.

Also, last week, we told you the story of the couple vowing to walk the 165-mile New Jersey stretch of the Underground Railroad. They will be back at it again this weekend and are inviting you to come along.

If you see this 🔒 in today’s newsletter, that means we’re highlighting our exclusive journalism. You need to be a subscriber to read these stories.

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

How COVID-19 turned the tables on Philly’s restaurant industry

If there’s one positive to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that a number of industries were forced to reevaluate how to retain and attract quality employees.

Historically, when it comes to Philly’s restaurant industry, there has been a culture of customer satisfaction and a lack of staff protections, but some restaurateurs are now looking to put workers first.

In the meantime, worker unionization has grown considerably.

When it comes to food, owners who are feeling the pinch from labor shortages, wage increases, and inflation are raising prices to justify costs. But there are some owners, like Mike Strauss of Mike’s BBQ, who say they are keeping prices lower than they should.

“I feel like there’s only so much you can charge,” says Strauss, who’s raised prices three times since 2020, but now sells 25% less ribs after two price hikes since 2020.

Still, as many restaurants were forced to close due to the pandemic, our reporter Jenn Ladd writes in her first of two parts examining Philly’s food scene, “the burgeoning crop of new restaurants opening this spring signals there’s still plenty of entrepreneurs willing to gamble on Philly’s appetite.”

What you should know today

Wanna go for a walk this weekend?

For Ken Johnston and Deborah Price, their 165-mile segmented “Walk to Freedom,” which started from the beach at Cape May last Saturday, doesn’t have to be a solo trek.

This isn’t the first time Johnston, who lives in near Cobbs Creek, did a distance walk like this, but it is the first time he and Price will as they plan to travel the New Jersey path of the Underground Railroad. Our reporter Valerie Russ, who wrote their initial story, told us of plans to follow the duo as they continue weekend walks scheduled to end in Burlington by May 8.

Johnston and Price plan to be back at it again this weekend and invite anyone who would like to walk portions with them or just offer a wave to do so. Here’s a peek at their itinerary:

🚶🏽‍♂️ Saturday: Starting from the Wawa, 121 Main St, Dennisville to Port Elizabeth, via Route 347, 13 miles.

🚶🏾 Sunday: Port Elizabeth, starting point to be determined, to My Neighborhood Deli, 2600 Cedar St, Millville, via West Buckshutem Road, 11 miles.

Additionally, Johnston has created a blog with more information, dates, landmarks, and a direct perspective on the “why” when it comes to this latest endeavor.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

Over the next few weeks, actor Steven Eng will be a one-man show at People’s Light theater in Hold These Truths, the true story of American sociologist Gordon Hirabayashi, who took his case to the Supreme Court objecting to the internment of 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II. Today’s question: Do you know how many different roles Eng will portray on stage? Take a guess and find the answer here.

a. 25

b. 34

c. 38

d. 40

What we’re …

Evaluating: With Opening Day upon us, just how good we can expect the Phillies to be this season.🔒

💰 Realizing: Television personality and GOP Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz is worth a lot more than I would’ve thought.

🎻 Applauding: The Philadelphia Orchestra has pledged to make a commitment to social change via its performances this coming season.

🧩 Unscramble the Anagram 🧩

When it comes to logistics, it’s arguably your best bet on game day in South Philly.

READ SLOBI NETTER

Think you know? Send your guess our way at morningnewsletter@inquirer.com. We’ll give a shoutout to a reader at random who answers correctly. Today’s shoutout goes to Mitch Danzig of Philadelphia, who correctly guessed HOWIE ROSEMAN as Wednesday’s answer.

Photo of the day

That’s my time, Philly. My colleague Ashley Hoffman will bring her brand of news on Sunday and I look forward to getting your week started on Monday. Enjoy your weekend. ✌️