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July 17 – Prominent California Restaurateurs and Bar Owners Call on Congress to Pass The RESTAURANTS Act and Protect 822,700 California Jobs and $97 Billion Restaurant Economy

gg bridge


July 17, 2020


Jeff Solnet

Prominent California Restaurateurs and Bar Owners Call on Congress to Pass The RESTAURANTS Act and Protect 822,700 California Jobs and $97 Billion Restaurant Economy  

Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund Would Inject $24 billion into California’s Economy, Ensure 55,350 Small Farms Stay in Business 

California Stands to Gain Most in Economic Benefits from RESTAURANTS Act of Any State

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, prominent California restaurateurs, bar owners, and Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) members called on Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris to support the RESTAURANTS Act.  On the press call, California restaurateurs and bar owners Josh Harris, Caroline Styne, Lindsay Tusk, and Michael Tusk asked their representatives to support the legislation and outlined its potential impacts on the state and national economies.

The RESTAURANTS Act would establish a $120 billion Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund geared toward assisting small restaurants and bars impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, the legislation was introduced on a bipartisan basis in both the Senate by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and in the House by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3). The legislation already boasts 93 cosponsors in the House and 5 cosponsors in the Senate, including Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). 

“This bill couldn’t be more tailored to the state of California" said Caroline Styne, partner at the Los Angeles-based Lucques Group and a member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition advisory board. "We have both the booming culinary scene and the vast supply chain industries the RESTAURANTS Act is designed to keep afloat. We risk losing both if this bill isn’t passed, putting at risk hundreds of thousands of Californian jobs and countless industries that call our state home. I’ve been encouraged to see sixteen California representatives sign onto this vital lifeline for our state, but now we need Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris to do what’s right for California.”

According to a recent economic report from Compass Lexecon, the fund would return up to $271 billion in economic benefits, as well as reducing nationwide unemployment by 2.4%. The legislation would be particularly impactful in California, where the leisure and hospitality industry has contributed to over a third of all jobs lost since March. 

The IRC projects the RESTAURANTS Act would:

  • Generate $24 billion in economic benefits for California.

  • Protect 822,700 California independent restaurant and bar jobs.

  • Protect California’s tourism industry, which stands to benefit $13.5 billion from the RESTAURANTS Act, the largest gain in the nation.

  • Help ensure California’s 55,350 small farms stay in business, along with providing $2.4 billion in economic benefits directly to suppliers like bakers, fishermen, butchers, and others.

  • Save California $4.3 billion in state unemployment benefits and insurance taxes.

“I’m a bar owner, not a magician,” said Josh Harris, owner and founder of Bon Vivants Hospitality, Bon Voyage! and Trick Dog in San Francisco, CA, and a member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition leadership team. “When the governor asks me to close my bar down completely, I can’t pull money out of a hat to pay rent, cover payroll, or foot supply bills. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to beat this virus and protect my community. But I don’t think I’m asking too much when I say I shouldn’t be forced to choose between compliance and bankruptcy. We need the RESTAURANTS Act so our state’s small bar and restaurant owners never have to make that choice.”

Last week, several major U.S. corporations announced their support for the RESTAURANTS Act. The companies – American Express, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt Hotels, Resy, Sysco, and US Foods – warned Congress that, without restaurants, “every one of our businesses would be impacted and the economic framework of cities and towns across all parts of the United States would be dramatically altered for the worse.” They concluded that “Congress must pass The RESTAURANTS Act of 2020 in the coming weeks.”

Last week, over 215 small businesses that supply restaurants also called for the passage of the RESTAURANTS Act. Among the signees were 34 Californian suppliers, including Bi-Rite Market, Joseph Phelps Wines, and Matthiasson Family Vineyards. According to a recent economic report from Compass Lexecon, restaurants’ and bars’ suppliers employ over 5 million workers across the country. 

“What’s at stake in California cannot be understated” said Lindsay Tusk, owner at Quince Restaurant, Cotogna, and Verjus in San Francisco, CA, and member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition leadership team. “I usually employ 170 people at my three small restaurants. I’ve been able to hire back 25, and I’m fortunate that one of my supplier farms is allowing us to serve food outdoors at their business. So many mom-and-pop shops are confined to four walls, and if we don’t pass the RESTAURANTS Act to support them, we’re going to see hundreds of thousands of Californians lose their jobs permanently. This isn’t hard. There’s a plan to avoid this and it just needs our senators’ support.”

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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