As owners of independent and family-run restaurants struggle to stay afloat, the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act could help them overcome the structural changes happening across the industry. Four months after it was introduced, House Democrats have included the RESTAURANTS Act in an updated version of the HEROES Act, a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response bill that now includes a $120 billion grant program for non-chain restaurants who have lost business in the wake of federally mandated social-distancing orders. This is a huge step towards saving the thousands of neighborhood restaurants, food trucks, food carts, and bars that are at risk of closing for good.
HOW THE HEROES ACT CAN HELP
1. Prioritization Of BIPOC-Owned Restaurants.
For the first 14 days after the bill passes, “grants would be prioritized for establishments owned by members of marginalized and underrepresented communities, with a focus on women and minority-owned and operated entities,” according to The Independent Restaurants Coalition. But that’s not all. There’s also a separate $3 billion grant proposed exclusively for minority businesses, like NYC’s Black-Owned Restaurants, and so many others.
2. Direct Support For Restaurants And Their Workers.
In June, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was enacted to provide loans to restaurants and other businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis. But even some U.S. Congresspeople have acknowledged that this program “doesn’t fit the needs of the many restaurants hit hard by the pandemic.” Only 8% of PPP loans have gone to restaurants and “when you look at the fraction that have gone to independent restaurants, the number decreases drastically,” according to ROAR (Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants). The HEROES Act would change all of that by giving eligible restaurants free grants for things like payroll and 10 days of paid sick leave for all workers. And unlike PPP loans, restaurants and bars would not have to pay this money back.
3. More Funds to Help NYC Restaurants Survive The Winter Months.
Whether a restaurant chooses to reopen for indoor dining at a reduced 25% capacity, or continue working with some combination of outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery, colder weather is going to impact business. In fact, many are already suffering from financial losses after being closed for months or operating at a much lower capacity. That’s why organizations like The Independent Restaurants Coalition believe that Congress can ensure small businesses have a shot at surviving winter and getting through the pandemic by “providing flexible grants based on revenue losses to independent restaurants who need them.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
While ordering takeout, tipping well, and donating to nonprofits are all important ways to help the restaurant community right now, you should also let your local representative know that helping independent restaurants and workers survive this crisis is important to you. The Independent Restaurants Coalition has made it easy to ask your rep to support the HEROES Act with this automatic email builder. You can also can also share this infographic using the hashtags #saverestaurants and #toosmalltofail to amplify their mission on social media.