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December 1 – Restaurant Operator On Problem Solvers Caucus Plan: "Will Not Solve Anything" for Restaurants

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December 1, 2020

Jeff Solnet

Restaurant Operator On Problem Solvers Caucus Plan: "Will Not Solve Anything" for Restaurants
Proposed COVID Relief Package Includes No Direct Aid for Restaurants and Bars; Despite Paycheck Protection Loans in Spring, 2.1 Million Remain Unemployed from Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) released the following statement in response to the Problem Solvers Caucus' proposed COVID relief package, which includes no direct aid for independent restaurants:

"The Problem Solvers Caucus proposal will not solve anything for the hundreds of thousands of neighborhood restaurants facing permanent closure this winter," said Kevin Boehm, co-founder of the Independent Restaurant Coalition and co-founder of Boka Restaurant Group in Chicago, IL. "The first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans did not work as advertised for restaurants and bars. More than one in six restaurants are already permanently closed and two million restaurant workers remain unemployed, more than any other industry. Today, the situation for restaurants is worse than it was when PPP was first passed in the Spring– the virus is surging in new communities, limits on indoor dining are back, and colder temperatures are preventing outdoor dining. A few weeks of payroll is not the best solution to ensure our industry can fully reopen and reemploy millions of Americans. This proposal is a bandaid on a bullet wound until restaurants and bars can generate more revenue.

"Any member of Congress serious about helping neighborhood restaurants and bars should join the growing group of bipartisan lawmakers who support the RESTAURANTS Act, a commonsense relief plan written by neighborhood restaurants that would guarantee the industry can survive the reduced revenue this winter. Millions of restaurant and bar employees don't have a 'plan b' if America's second largest private sector employer disappears.  We urge the Problem Solvers Caucus to support the RESTAURANTS Act."

President Donald Trump recently called on Congress to help restaurants, tweeting"The restaurant business is being absolutely decimated. Congress should step up and help. Time is of the essence!" The IRC first wrote to Congress in April regarding the creation of a Restaurant Revitalization Fund, noting that "the duration of state and municipal closures has prevented the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from providing the vital lifeline we so desperately need." As a result, in June, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) introduced the RESTAURANTS Act -- the legislation now has the support of 215 House members and 50 senators.
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.

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