The $1.5 trillion omnibus bill just passed by congress under the eye of the Biden administration has failed to help our restauranteurs who are still recovering from the effects of Covid.
The bill did not include money for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, according to a new report by NBC Nashville.
One independent restaurant owner in Tennessee said he had to sell his personal belongings just to keep his bar – Love & Exile Wines – afloat. He is one of many owners calling for Congress to add funds to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, the report says. He told NBC:
“We were really concerned obviously about tornado insurance and covid, so I sold a property just to generate some cash just to get through the first few months of the pandemic. It was kind of necessary. I just didn’t want to take any chances of being short on cash or having to struggle too bad through the early parts of the pandemic knowing we were going to be shut down, and we weren’t sure what kind of support we were going to get for our employees.”
The owner, Tyler Alkins, told NBC that “his business surviving has been harder without financial help from the federal government and adds federal financial help would help cut the millions of dollars in cost incurred for his restaurant from the March 2020 tornadoes and the COVID19 Pandemic”.
“It’s really challenging for sure,” he told NBC. He also claimed to never have seen any money from the RRF: “We never saw any of that money. No, we were approved for funds, but we did not receive them.”
Erika Polmar – Executive Director of The Independent Restaurant Coalition, added: “Unfortunately, as amazing as it was to have the American Rescue plan include the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, it was terribly underfunded and it only provided 28.6 billion dollars.”
“Now a grassroots advocacy network of over 100,000 that are actively supporting the recovery for independent restaurants across the country,” said Polmar. “Our primary purpose has been to fight for financial relief,” she continued, noting that about 300,000 restaurants and bars applied for the funding and that just 1/3rd of them have received funds.
“That means that nearly 200,000 restaurants have their applications languishing in the portal and they have been waiting more than a year for relief,” Polmar said. “Folks That have received funding have the resource that they need to deal with skyrocketing prices, to pay their staff well, and to pay back rent and all the debt they accrued while they were closed. Those that haven’t don’t have that resource and they are personally leveraged,” she continued.
Alkins concluded: ‘We are pretty shocked, to be honest with you. Very disappointed. I assumed it was kind of a given. We’ve been hearing for so long that it would be replenished.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) told NBC: “Nothing stops restaurants from seeking more money in later legislation, and I support such help for restaurants. This bill was already six months late in passing and could not be delayed further.”