By: The Negros Times
CONGRESSWOMAN CAROLYN MALONEY, QUEENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, RESTAURANT OWNERS, AND SUPPLIERS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF FEDERAL LEGISLATION TO AID THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY
QUEENS, NY — On Friday, February 18, 2022 at 2:30PM, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, Restaurateurs and Suppliers from throughout New York hosted a rally encouraging Congress to pass legislation to provide aid to the restaurant industry. The rally took place at the Court Square Diner (45-30 23rd Street), in Long Island City.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney hosted the rally together with local business owners and stakeholders to urge elected officials to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). New York restaurants are in dire need of relief. 27,643 New York restaurants applied for over $9.6 billion in RRF grant relief, and only 9,775 small businesses received funding.
Rep. Maloney is championing three bills that would help restaurants across the country that have been devastated by the pandemic. The legislation would replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), sending billions of dollars in new relief directly to the restaurant industry, create new protections in the form of business interruption insurance, and rework the Paycheck Protection Program loan program to extend the timeframe.
This rally comes at a critical time for the restaurant industry, even though 80% of restaurants that did not receive an RRF grant reported they are on the verge of permanent closure, the White House indicated that they believe the industry is doing just fine according to a recent Rolling Stone article. This comes after the January jobs report showed that restaurants are nearly one million jobs below their pre-pandemic levels as businesses struggle to reach their pre-pandemic form:
Unemployment rate for leisure and hospitality is still 8.2%, about double the economy-wide rate, as restaurant and bar employment is still down 984,700 below its pre-pandemic levels.
Since February 2020, employment in leisure and hospitality is down by 1.8 million, or 10.3%.
Growth in leisure and hospitality has stalled in recent months. In January the sector added roughly 151,000 jobs, compared to 163,000 jobs in December and 191,000 jobs in November.
Even though the industry is hurting, it is clear that restaurants and bars have been making an effort to increase wages. Over the past year, leisure and hospitality wages have increased by roughly $58, a 13% increase during that period.
Nearly 300,000 restaurants and bars applied for Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants earlier this year, but only about one in three applicants received relief. Calls to restart the program have grown more urgent in recent weeks. Cointreau joins Jimmy Kimmel, OpenTable, GrubHub, Toast and mayors from over 27 cities representing 16 million Americans who urged Congressional leadership to continue the vital program, saying not giving restaurants relief would be “catastrophic.”
Existing legislation to refill the RRF carries wide bipartisan support. 299 lawmakers in the House of Representatives and 52 members of the Senate have signed onto four pieces of legislation supporting adding money to the RRF (H.R. 3807, H.R. 4568, S.2091, and S. 2675).
More than 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
The IRC recently released data collected from a survey of nearly 1,200 members of the independent restaurant and bar community in all 50 states that demonstrates the dire situation the pandemic has created for businesses, especially those that did not receive federal RRF grants:
49% of businesses that did not receive RRF grants were forced to lay off workers because of the Omicron surge compared to 33% of businesses that received RRF grants.
42% of businesses that did not receive RRF grants are in danger of filing for or have filed for bankruptcy, compared to just 20% that received RRF grants.
28% of businesses that did not receive RRF grants have received or are anticipating receiving an eviction notice compared to just 10% that received RRF grants.
Restaurant and bar owners who did not receive an RRF grant are taking on more personal debt. 41% of people that did not receive RRF reported taking out new personal loans to support their businesses since February of 2020. This is only true for 19% of businesses that received an RRF grant.
46% of businesses reported that their operating hours were impacted for more than 10 days in December 2021.
58% of businesses reported that their sales decreased by more than half in December 2021.
Full results of the survey can be found here.