Federal lawmakers have introduced a bill to make $120 billion in grants available to independent restaurant owners.
The RESTAURANTS Act has bipartisan support in both chambers on Congress. Its full name is The Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive Act of 2020.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) co-introduced the RESTAURANTS Act with several other lawmakers including Earl Blumenauer (OR-03).
Of the 658,000 restaurants and bars in the country, 76 percent are independently owned. As many eateries have been closed due to the pandemic, they are suffering huge financial losses.
“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.
A recent study found 85 percent of independent restaurants in the U.S. are at risk of permanently closing due to the pandemic. And their employees are at risk as well. An estimated 6 million restaurant workers have lost their jobs recently.
“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,” explained Fitzpatrick.
The bill also has support from the Independent Restaurant Coalition. A recent letter statement from the IRC urged Congress to act immediately.
“This is about more than preserving our most cherished places of celebration and gathering– it’s about bringing a massive economy of over 16 million workers and billions of dollars in spending back to life. The revitalization fund is a smart investment that would contribute more than two dollars to the economy for every one dollar spent and ensure millions of Americans have a shot at keeping their job.”
Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Doug Jones, D-Ala. have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.