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March 10 – Leader Schumer, Rep. Blumenauer, Independent Restaurants Celebrate $28.6 Billion Restaurant and Bar Grant Program in American Rescue Plan

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Leader Schumer, Rep. Blumenauer, Independent Restaurants Celebrate $28.6 Billion Restaurant and Bar Grant Program in American Rescue Plan 

Watch the Press Conference Here

Washington, D.C. -- Today, members of the Independent Restaurant Coalition joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) to discuss a $28.6 billion restaurant and bar grant program that will soon land on President Biden’s desk as part of the American Rescue Plan. This legislation is modeled after the RESTAURANTS Act, a grant program first proposed by the IRC in April 2020. 

Sen. Wicker and Sinema’s proposed amendment to the budget – calling for the creation of a dedicated restaurant relief fund in the federal budget – was the first amendment Sen. Schumer called as Majority Leader and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, with a 90-10 vote. 

The $28.6 billion restaurant and bar grant program included in the American Rescue Plan will:

  • Give restaurants and bars the means to make payroll, pay down debt, and cover other vital eligible costs;
  • Allow restaurants and bars more flexibility to decide how and when to reopen whenever it’s safe in their own community; 
  • Encourage small businesses to begin hiring back the 2 million restaurant and bar workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic;
  • Be run by the SBA and will prioritize awarding grants to businesses owned by women or veterans or are socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.

In their remarks, Leader Schumer and Rep. Blumenauer praised the IRC’s work in mobilizing and pushing Congress to get this unprecedented lifeline for restaurants and bars passed. While Schumer praised the bill’s design and the IRC’s role in crafting the legislation, Rep. Blumenauer expressed hope for the IRC’s longevity. 

For information on how restaurants and bars can prepare to apply for a grant, check out this guide developed by the Independent Restaurant Coalition.

Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader 

“Without the IRC… I don’t know if it would have gotten done at all.”

“The first amendment I ever put on the floor as Majority Leader was the RESTAURANTS Act and I was proud to say that it was cosponsored by a Democrat and a Republican. A Democrat -- Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and a Republican, Roger WIcker of Mississippi.”

“The bill, working with the IRC, it’s really designed well.”

“We’ll stick with restaurants and make sure it’s implemented quickly and fairly. If we need to renew it, we’ll be there as well.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Author of the RESTAURANTS Act

“The grants could very well make the difference between survival for some of our most cherished institutions, losing them perhaps forever. None of this would have been possible without the partnership of the IRC...Working with IRC has been awe-inspiring.” 

“I hope that the IRC becomes a permanent fixture in local communities, and here in Washington D.C.” 

“This bill would not look like it does without the IRC. There are other groups that are involved in hospitality and beer and wine and chain restaurants. A whole host of folks that are out there with deeper pockets and more history, but they weren’t fighting for independent restaurants. And [the IRC] helped us craft provisions that were specific to your needs.”

Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition

“We are so deeply grateful to Senators Schumer, Wicker, and Sinema and Representatives Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick for fighting with us every single day to create this program and save restaurants.”

“The $28.6 billion grant program about to be signed by President Biden will make the difference between shuttered storefronts and open doors.”

“Today, the heartbreak starts to heal. Everyone that depends on restaurants and bars for their livelihoods, the 500,000 small businesses, the 11 million workers, from dishwashers to farmers, servers to florists to chefs, each of them can sleep a little easier and start dreaming of a post pandemic future. None of that would have been possible without the support of our champions in Congress.”

Tom Colicchio, IRC co-founder, Owner of Crafted Hospitality in New York City

“This is a story about people who just came together and decided that we’re going to (not just) help each other but the entire industry.”

“[This bill] is unprecedented. Every single person on this call. Every single member of the IRC. I love these people. I would go to war with them.”

Robert St. John, IRC co-founder, owner of New South Restaurants in Mississippi

“Like other restaurateurs, the decisions I make affect my wife and kids, but also the 300 team members who work with me, and their families and loved ones.”

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my home state Senator, Senator Roger Wicker, who has been a lion in this fight for restaurants...he got it from day one. He understood the unique business model of restaurants, he realized our plight, he knew the challenges we were facing, and Senator Sinema hopped on quickly in that effort. I’m proud that Senator Wicker is my home Senator, but I’m even more proud of his role to save America’s independent restaurants.”

“This recent bill, moving forward, is going to enable us to go forward and keep all of [my team members] employed.”

Amanda Cohen, IRC co-founder, owner of Dirt Candy in New York City

“Over the summer, I testified before the House’s committee on Small Businesses on the crisis restaurants were facing, and still are facing. In my testimony, I implored Congress to find a way to help independent restaurants. Today, I can confidently say that Congress heard me. The $28.6 billion program for our broken businesses will help countless restaurants, not only survive the pandemic, but will also make them whole again.”

Gregory Gourdet, IRC co-founder, chef of Kann Winter Village in Portland, Oregon

“(This bill) is a vital lifeline that is the best shot at hiring back the 2 million (restaurant and bar workers) who lost their jobs during the pandemic. This employment crisis disproportionately affects black, indigenous, and people of color, women, immigrants, the youth, and other marginalized communities.”

“The program itself was modeled off the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act, which was introduced into the House by my very own Representative, Earl Blumenauer, and was strongly supported by Leader Schumer. Thanks to their leadership, as well as the leadership of Senator Wicker in Mississippi, Senator Sinema in Arizona and Representative Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania, the bill now has wide bipartisan support in Congress.”

Caroline Styne, IRC co-founder, co-owner of Lucques Group in Los Angeles

“This is more than a Rescue Plan. It is more than a relief package, it is literally a stimulus package that will really have an effect on the entire country’s economy.”


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.

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