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August 14 - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Cosponsors the RESTAURANTS Act, Deepening Support for Restaurant-Specific Economic Relief Program in Congress

Chuck Schumer wearing a suit and tie


August 14, 2020


Jeff Solnet

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Cosponsors the RESTAURANTS Act, Deepening Support for Restaurant-Specific Economic Relief Program in Congress

Over 200 Members of Congress Have Called for Direct Relief for Independent Restaurants and Workers Hard-Hit by COVID-19

1 in 3 Jobs Lost in New York During Pandemic Come From Leisure and Hospitality Industry, the Most of Any Industry 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed the RESTAURANTS Act, deepening support for a bipartisan $120 billion grant program for independent restaurants.

“Restaurant jobs are the heartbeat of local communities across New York and the nation and the lifeblood of our economy, employing more young people, single mothers, and immigrants than most industries. As one of the hardest hit industries during this pandemic, we must do everything we can to ensure our restaurants and our restaurant workers are protected, otherwise we will shortchange our entire economy,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “I am proud to stand with the Independent Restaurant Coalition and support the RESTAURANTS Act to give restaurants the relief they need to weather this crisis so they can eventually fully reopen and bring back to work millions of workers who have lost their jobs. Restaurants can’t wait. Congress needs to act now to pass this important legislation and other critical assistance that struggling small businesses and workers are in desperate need of.” 

The RESTAURANTS Act would establish a $120 billion fund for small restaurants and bars to cover costs such as payroll, rent, supplies, and PPE. Originally introduced in June by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), alongside Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA 1), the RESTAURANTS Act now has 176 cosponsors in the House and 26 cosponsors in the Senate. More than one in four Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic are food and beverage workers, more than any other industry. Restaurants and bars were responsible for about $220 billion in GDP losses last quarter, but received less than $42 billion of Paycheck Protection Program loans. 

“Senator Schumer understands that the original paycheck protection program wasn’t enough to keep tens of thousands of independent restaurants from closing,” said Tom Colicchio, a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition and founder of Crafted Hospitality in New York City. “Restaurants are economic engines, operating on uniquely low profit margins and putting the revenue we generate right back into the farmers, bakers, distillers, and other small businesses that supply us.  That’s exactly why our plan is a good deal for taxpayers– for every dollar Congress invests in restaurants, far more than double that goes back into the economy. It’s also why the pandemic has left restaurants like mine with more debt than ever before and seemingly insurmountable odds to stay open. Our industry faces extinction without help. Independent restaurants are grateful for Senator Schumer’s leadership and hope others in the Senate follow his lead and fight for our survival at this critical moment.” 

In 2018, New York restaurants generated $51.6 billion in sales. The unique impact the pandemic has had on restaurants has consequently devastated New York’s economy. The leisure and hospitality industry employed 967,400 New Yorkers as of the beginning of March, fourth most in the nation. Since that time, these workers have accounted for 33% of all jobs lost in the state. Passing the RESTAURANTS Act would get these individuals back to work, and save the state $2.2 billion in unemployment benefits.  

“I can’t imagine what New York looks like without the restaurants we love,” said Amanda Cohen, member of the IRC leadership team and owner of Dirt Candy in New York City. “Until there’s a vaccine and we can operate at full capacity again, I wake up everyday wondering whether I can keep my doors open. I used to employ 35 people; now I employ six, and I don’t know where any of my team will go if Dirt Candy closes for good. The Paycheck Protection Program was a good start towards bringing us relief and helped me reopen my business, but it’s a short term solution for what we now know is at least an 18 month problem. Thanks to Senator Schumer, millions of New Yorkers involved in the restaurant industry have more hope that we can get through this.”
Amanda Cohen 
testified before the House Committee on Small Business regarding the restaurant industry’s crisis on July 15, 2020. Other members of the IRC Leadership Team presented a plan for the RESTAURANTS Act in a meeting with President Trump and other administration officials on May 18, 2020. Recently, Larry Kudlow, the Director of the White House National Economic Council, said the White House would support the RESTAURANTS Act

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, Steven Satterfield, Michael Shemtov, Nancy Silverton, Frank Stitt, Bobby Stuckey, Robert St. John, Caroline Styne, Jill Tyler, and Andrew Zimmern. 

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