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December 21 — Independent Restaurants on Covid-19 Surge: “Congress is going home, while restaurants and bars are going to close”


December 21, 2021 


Jeff Solnet

Independent Restaurants on Covid-19 Surge: “Congress is going home, while restaurants and bars are going to close”

Community Covid-19 Outbreaks Nationwide Shutter Dozen of Restaurants, Some Permanently: “The latest Covid-19 surge will be the last straw for many restaurants and bars that didn’t get a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant earlier this year.”  

86% of Restaurants That Haven’t Received Grant Relief At Risk of Closure if Congress Does Not Replenish RRF

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) released a statement on the recent surge of Covid-19 cases nationwide: 

“Congress went home and their neighborhood restaurants and bars are going out of business,” said Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “We shouldn’t be surprised by what we’re seeing – the nearly 200,000 restaurants that have applied for but have not yet received the RRF told us they were out of time months ago. The latest Covid-19 surge will be the last straw for many restaurants and bars struggling with back rent, debt, and reduced consumer demand.  These small businesses are being forced to choose between making payroll and keeping their staff and community safe during this surge. Restaurant owners across the country are fed up and out of options,  but they are not giving up. This community will continue to demand their elected officials act quickly to refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and ensure the second largest employer in America can continue serving our communities.”

Restaurants around the country are desperate for relief as a new wave of COVID-19 forces businesses to close their doors to protect their staff and customers. Last week, over 3,300 restaurants and bars from all 50 states reported they are in danger of closing if Congress does not replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a program designed by restaurateurs that has helped over 100,000 businesses keep their doors open.  The IRC estimates about 86% of the 200,000 restaurants and bars who applied for grant relief and didn’t receive it fear closure without the program being fully funded by Congress.  Many of these restaurants and bars are sitting on 21 months of debt and cannot take another revenue downfall.

America is home to over 500,000 independent restaurants and bars, which supported 16 million jobs before the pandemic. Just 101,004 restaurants and bars received an RRF grant this year, but nearly 200,000 were left behind in the first round of funding and are in danger of permanent closure. Restaurants and bars lost over $280 billion during the pandemic yet only received $28.6 billion in targeted relief. 

The Independent Restaurant Coalition is advocating for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, which would provide an additional $60 billion in funding to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The plan is gaining rapid bipartisan support in Congress– at least 223 members of the House of Representatives and 43 members of the Senate have indicated their support for the bill, which was introduced by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in the Senate and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) in the House. 

Restaurants and bars are struggling to survive 20 months of debt, rising supplier costs and the omicron variant threatens to push more restaurants and bars into permanent closure. 

Suppliers are joining together to push for restaurant relief as well. Recently, nearly 30 winemakers, restaurant suppliers and trade groups, including Toast, Baldor Foods, US Foods and DoorDash called on Congress to refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) in a letter sent to Congressional leadership by the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC). These organizations, representing many of the five million workers restaurants support through the supply chain, cautioned Members of Congress about the cataclysmic effects allowing restaurants and bars to close would have on their businesses.



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.