UPDATED August 18, 2020
The RESTAURANTS Act of 2020, which would establish a $120 billion revitalization fund for independent restaurants, was introduced in both The House and The Senate back in June. Hooray! BUT, it STILL hasn’t been voted on! Independent restaurants across America need your help! Please call the US Capitol Switchboard to be connected to your representatives in The House and The Senate at (202) 224-3121. You can look up your Representative here. And you can look up your Senators here (at the very top of the page in a very small drop-down menu next to the tiny US flag). Tell your reps on The Hill that you support the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020, and they should too!
You can also let the President know that if (when!) the RESTAURANTS Act passes, you want him to sign the legislation without hesitation! Here’s the White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111.
Tell all your representatives that you’re going to be watching what they do – or don’t do – to help the hospitality industry, and you won’t forget their actions when they’re up for reelection!
Here’s a portion of the press release from today announcing the introduction of the Act in both the House and Senate:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., today introduced the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2020. The legislation would establish a $120 billion revitalization fund to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry because of COVID-19 and support the reemployment of 11 million workers.
“The coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten millions of jobs supported by America’s small and independent restaurants,” Wicker said. “These small businesses are hurting because of the costs of restocking perishable foods, retooling their operations, and they still cannot operate at full capacity even as the country reopens. The RESTAURANTS Act would save many of these businesses, benefiting their workers and the farmers, fishermen, distributors, and truckers that rely on them.”
“Arizona restaurants fuel jobs across our state, and they need support now. Establishing a Restaurant Revitalization Fund will help get Arizonans back to work and ensure our local Arizona restaurants can keep their doors open as we continue to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Sinema.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has damaged every sector of the economy, but none more than independent restaurants,” said Blumenauer. “Without federal assistance, our corner coffee shops, diners, and cafes may never reopen their doors. I’m delighted to partner with Senator Wicker and restaurant industry leaders to make sure that millions of restaurants and their workers are not left behind.”
“Our independent, local restaurants have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to operate through takeout and delivery only, many family-operated restaurants in my community have lost thousands of dollars in potential income,” said Fitzpatrick. “The mom and pop diner and deli on Main Street are hurting right now. Without immediate help, these local businesses and their hardworking employees will be suffering from the economic impact of this pandemic for years to come, and that is why I am proud to partner with Congressman Blumenauer to provide them with relief through this revitalization fund.”
Restaurants have been uniquely affected by COVID-19. In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27 percent of total job losses in the month. Without further action from Congress, over 11 million independent restaurant workers are at risk of permanently losing their jobs. Restaurants are facing months of massive revenue losses because of government mandated social distancing, rising costs of supplies, new expenses for personal protective equipment, and a decrease in the public’s willingness to dine out.
There are over one million restaurant locations in the United States, including bars, independent restaurants, chain restaurants, and social caterers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the restaurant industry has lost over 6.1 million jobs – the most of any industry and double the figure from the next most affected industry.
A recent study found that 85 percent of independent restaurants are likely to close by the end of the year if direct aid like the revitalization fund is not provided to the industry.