January 19 — ICYMI: Jimmy Kimmel, NFL’s Ndamukong Suh, Top Chef Stars, OpenTable, James Beard Foundation, GrubHub, and Toast Join Thousands of Restaurant Owners and Urge Congress to Save Restaurants, Participate in Independent Restaurant Coalition’s "Day of Action"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2022
ICYMI: Jimmy Kimmel, NFL’s Ndamukong Suh, Top Chef Stars, OpenTable, James Beard Foundation, GrubHub, and Toast Join Thousands of Restaurant Owners and Urge Congress to Save Restaurants, Participate in Independent Restaurant Coalition’s "Day of Action"
At Least 20 Million People Reached Through Social Media Campaign, Inspiring Over 5,000 Calls to Members of Congress
New Survey Data from IRC Shows 98% of All Restaurants Experienced Decreases December 2021 Sales
WASHINGTON D.C. – Yesterday, thousands of people across the country participated in the Independent Restaurant Coalition’s (IRC) Day of Action designed to put pressure on members of Congress and the Biden Administration to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). A coordinated social media blitz engaged restaurant and bar owners, workers, suppliers, vendors, diners, celebrities and non profit organizations across the country and reached at least 20 million people who generated over 5,000 calls to congressional offices. Participants in the campaign included: Jimmy Kimmel, Andrew Zimmern, NFL’s Ndamukong Suh, José Andrés, Padma Lakshmi, Mayor Eric Adams, Tom Colicchio, Dominique Crenn, Rick Bayless, OpenTable, James Beard Foundation, Ashley Christensen, GrubHub, Toast, ChowNow, Caroline Styne, Ellen Yin, and Alon Shaya.
Local coalitions of independent restaurants and their employees engaged in the event including:
“Our elected officials are neglecting the crisis facing our industry,” said Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “These businesses were in a precarious position long before the winter, and now the Omicron variant is causing losses that they simply cannot take on. They are filing for bankruptcy, facing eviction, and laying off their employees. Our community came together to ensure Congress and the Biden Administration hear our pleas and quickly replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.”
Earlier this month, the IRC released a letter signed by current and former mayors from 27 cities calling on members of Congress to replenish the RRF. The Mayors, who represent over 16 million Americans, argue that not giving restaurants relief would be “catastrophic” and go on to say, “the Omicron variant is causing more strife for restaurants and bars in such peril that they might not survive the winter.”
“Our data shows a -28% decline in daily seated diners in the US compared to this time two years ago," said Susan Lee, Chief Growth Officer of OpenTable. “The resilience of the restaurant community is truly remarkable, but after two years of navigating the pandemic, replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a vital next step."
OpenTable’s State of the Industry dashboard shows that daily seated diners in several major cities are much lower than the national average, with some of the hardest hit cities including: Atlanta (-41%), Baltimore (-64%), New York (-57%), Philadelphia (-72%) and Raleigh (-56%). Note: OpenTable data compares daily seated diners on January 17, 2022 to daily seated diners on January 17, 2020.
Here are a few of the thousands of that participated in the event:
Just days ago, the IRC released new data collected from nearly 1,200 members of the independent restaurant and bar community in all 50 states that demonstrates the dire situation the pandemic has created for businesses, especially those that did not receive RRF grants. The survey demonstrates the important role the RRF has played keeping small restaurants and bars in business and workers employed during the pandemic overall:
42% of businesses that did not receive RRF grants are in danger of filing for or have filed for bankruptcy, compared to just 20% who received RRF grants.
28% of businesses that did not receive RRF grants have received or are anticipating receiving an eviction notice compared to just 10% that received RRF grants.
Restaurant and bar owners who did not receive an RRF grant are taking on more personal debt. 41% of people that did not receive RRF reported taking out new personal loans to support their businesses since February of 2020. This is only true for 19% of businesses that received an RRF grant.
46% of businesses reported that their operating hours were impacted for more than 10 days in December 2021.
58% of businesses reported that their sales decreased by more than half in December 2021.
Full results of the survey can be found here.
Nearly 200,000 restaurants and bars who applied for relief were left behind by the underfunded program and are in danger of permanent closure. More than 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Existing legislation to refill the RRF carries wide bipartisan support. 295 lawmakers in the House of Representatives and 52 members of the Senate have signed onto four pieces of legislation supporting adding money to the RRF (H.R. 3807, H.R. 4568, S.2091, and S. 2675).
ABOUT THE IRC:
The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners across the country who have built a grassroots movement to secure vital protections for the nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants and the more than 11 million restaurant and bar workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
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