Newly Formed Coalition Fights for Restaurant Aid

A newly formed coalition hopes to help struggling independent restaurants and workers.
A newly formed coalition hopes to help struggling independent restaurants and workers.

April 7, 2020 — There are more than 500,000 independent restaurants throughout the United States that are currently being directly affected by the coronavirus crisis. Not only are the restaurants closed to the public and not bringing in any revenue (which generates $800 billion per year), but the workers they employ are also being laid off in droves. This has prompted a group of well-known chefs and independent restaurant owners to band together and create the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC).

The IRC has created the Save Restaurants initiative which aims to gain protection for independent restaurants and their workers throughout the US. On the coalition’s website, they assert that independent restaurants “estimate that there needs to be a minimum of $150 billion cash flow just to pay our current bills, rent, and taxes — and that’s before we pay our employees, who are the front line of service in this hospitality industry and the backbone to the local economies our businesses sustain.” Their belief is that all independent restaurants throughout the US need help now, and they are working hard to get it.

The main proposals of the Save Restaurants initiative include:

  1. A six month income replacement program (valued at $440 billion): This would be based on the condition that independent restaurants continuing to employ staff, pay rent and upkeep payables to suppliers.
  2. An income replacement grant program: This would allow independent restaurants to pay their suppliers which will create a positive ripple effect throughout the supply chain.
  3. A grant program that is not based on size for eligibility: This would mean that both small and large restaurants would be able receive relief.

The IRC has sent a letter to congress demanding that they take significant action to protect independent restaurants and their workers so that they can weather the COVID-19 storm. They assert that the CARES Act, which was recently passed, is not enough; if independent restaurants are not supported throughout their closures, there is a real possibility that they will not open again once the crisis passes.

The coalition also states that the ripple effects from the crisis will be felt throughout the food industry. On their website they state, “We directly employ over 11 million people across the country, and indirectly employ hundreds of million of workers up and down the food supply and delivery chain — from growers, packers, fisherman, linen services, delivery people and more — who depend on the continued revenue of restaurants to stay in business.”

Independent restaurants are being encouraged to visit the coalition’s website in order to get involved with the initiative or they can submit their story, which can be found here. The coalition hopes to collect stories from across the US of restaurant industry in order to help them illustrate the plight of the industry to members of congress.