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December 9 – Independent Restaurant Coalition Reacts to New COVID-19 Relief Framework


 December 9, 2020
 Jeff Solnet

Independent Restaurant Coalition Reacts to New COVID-19 Relief Framework
 IRC Co-founder Chef Tom Colicchio: "If Congress can compromise on targeted relief plans for airlines and music venues, there is no reason restaurants should be excluded

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) released the following statement regarding a new framework for a $908 billion COVID19 relief plan that contains no direct aid to independent restaurants and bars, but does set aside money specifically for airlines and music venues. More than one in five people unemployed from the pandemic, or 2.1 million Americans, are restaurant and bar workers. The industry received less than 8% of PPP funds in the Spring.
 "This new $908 billion relief proposal is unacceptable for independent restaurants. It would leave millions of restaurant workers on unemployment lines today and through next year," said Tom Colicchio co-founder of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. "Only a handful of restaurants could access the Paycheck Protection Program in the Spring and as a result more than one in six have permanently closed and 2.1 million people remain out of work. The independent restaurants and bars who were able to remain open have gone months with far less than their usual revenue.  Unlike the past nine months, today restaurants in many parts of the country will earn little to no revenue throughout the winter months. Businesses that operate on small profit margins, like restaurants and music venues, require additional relief to make up for this lost revenue in order to reopen and re-employ their staff.
 "If Congress can compromise on targeted relief plans for airlines and music venues, there is no reason restaurants should be excluded. We are America's second largest employer and one of the only industries that continues to see declining employment as restaurants permanently close as a result of the pandemic. Over 50 Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate agree that the plan we wrote–the RESTAURANTS Act– is the best path forward for independent restaurants. We cannot wait any longer. Congress must include a targeted relief plan for restaurants in their COVID19 relief proposal."
 On Monday, the National Restaurant Association released 
new survey data showing that 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently throughout the pandemic. On the same day, over 22,000 independent restaurant workers and advocates sent a letter to Congress urging the passage of the RESTAURANTS Act.
 The bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act is co-sponsored by 215 House members and 50 Senators, including Republicans like Sens. Wicker, Ernst, Graham, Cornyn, Murkowski, and Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Senator and Vice President Elect Harris, and Sens. Manchin, Warren, Sinema, Durbin and many others. In October, the House passed the RESTAURANTS Act as part of the HEROES Act 2.0.
 The proposal would establish a $120 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund run through the U.S. Treasury, not through participating banks like PPP.  Independent restaurants and bars would be eligible for grant amounts based on the difference between their revenues in 2019 and 2020.  These grants can only be applied to eligible expenses including payroll, rent, supplies, PPE, and debt incurred during the pandemic.
 The Bureau of Labor Statistics November’s employment report showed that food and drinking places lost 17,400 jobs last month, and are still down over 2.1 million jobs since the start of the pandemic -- far more than any other industry. This was the first net loss of jobs for the industry since April, when restrictions were at their tightest. Unemployment in Leisure and Hospitality is 134% higher than the national average.
 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 workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Coalition’s leadership team includes Tyler Akin, José Andrés, Kevin Boehm, Sean Brock, Katie Button, Andrew Carmellini, Ashley Christensen, Jeanie Chunn, Amanda Cohen, Tom Colicchio, Nina Compton, Rosa Garcia, Suzanne Goin, Gregory Gourdet, Will Guidara, Mason Hereford, Sam Kass, Max Katzenberg, Mike Lata, Camilla Marcus, Ivy Mix, Kwame Onwuachi, Patrick Phelan, Erika Polmar, Naomi Pomeroy, Niki Russ Federman, Steven Satterfield, Michael Shemtov, Nancy Silverton, Frank Stitt, Bobby Stuckey, Robert St. John, Caroline Styne, Jill Tyler, and Andrew Zimmern.