The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) was formed to save the local restaurants and bars affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic fallout. IRC was founded on the simple belief that there is power to affect legislative change if we unite our voice.
This national movement is quickly growing and EVERYONE is welcome to join. Together, we represent 500,000 small businesses across this country, playing a key role in the $760 billion restaurant economy.
For the 11 million people across the country employed by independent restaurants — and the 5 million workers up and down the food supply and delivery chain who depend on our restaurants — these small businesses cannot fail.
What's At Stake
Our nation’s 500,000 local, independent restaurants anchor our communities, drive domestic and international tourism, and invigorate development in every corner of the U.S. We directly employ over 11 million people across the country, and indirectly support 5 million more workers up and down the supply chain. We support growers, packers, fishermen, vintners, butchers, bakers, and millions of other small businesses that depend on our restaurants and bars. Individually we are small, but collectively we are vast. Restaurants annually contribute $760 billion sales to the economy.
When the Coronavirus first spread around the country in March, we turned off our stoves, sheathed our knives, and closed our doors to protect our teams and loyal patrons. We could not pay our staff and, as a result, 1 in 4 jobs lost during the pandemic came from the food and beverage industry.
Independent restaurants are small businesses. Unlike many other small businesses, our cash flow is completely dependent on sustained business. We pay today’s bills with last week’s revenue. If there is no revenue, those bills go unpaid. Economists estimate that there needs to be a minimum of $120 billion cash flow to our industry just to pay our backlogged bills, rent, and taxes – and that’s before we pay our employees, who we cannot even hire back if other operational costs go uncovered.
On top of all of our usual expenses, we will now have to pay for PPE equipment and more frequent use of cleaning supplies. In a recent survey conducted by the IRC and James Beard Foundation, 71% of independent restaurant owners reported having debt in excess of $50,000. These outstanding bills represent farmers, fishermen, bakers, and others left waiting in this time of need.
In May, some restrictions lifted, and some of us received Paycheck Protection Loans. We brought back as many workers as we could. Now, as the virus spreads, many of us are asked to close our doors once more, or adhere to stricter capacity restrictions, sending our workers back home without paychecks.
Altogether, the resulting economic fallout has been cataclysmic. Food services account for over 10% of the decrease in GDP over quarter two in 2020.
In the financial meltdown of 2008, the federal government bailed out institutions that were “too big to fail’ while paying too little attention to the workers who needed help the most. Today, in the case of independent restaurants, “we are too small to fail,” and there is too much at stake to ignore 16 million workers.
Providing economic assistance for independent restaurants is a critical investment to bringing our economy back. Moreover, saving restaurants will give Americans hope and a chance to rebuild devastated communities after we push through this crisis. .We are uniquely positioned for a quick, efficient distribution of funds to millions of workers up and down the food supply and delivery chains and can play a critical role in the swift administration of the federal government’s relief efforts during COVID-19. Congress must pass the RESTAURANTS Act to protect our livelihoods, and reignite our economy.
About the Independent Restaurant Coalition
The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners across the country who have built a grassroots movement to secure vital protections for the nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants and the more than 11 million restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Coalition’s leadership team includes José Andrés, Naomi Pomeroy, Kevin Boehm, Nina Compton, Andrew Carmellini, Ashley Christensen, Tom Colicchio, Rosa Garcia, Sean Brock, Suzanne Goin, Will Guidara, Camilla Marcus, Mason Hereford, Ivy Mix, Mike Lata, Sam Kass, Kwame Onwuachi, Patrick Phelan, Amanda Cohen, Steven Satterfield, Jill Tyler, Michael Shemtov, Nancy Silverton, Gregory Gourdet, Frank Stitt, Bobby Stuckey, Caroline Styne, and Andrew Zimmern.
+ hundreds of other chefs and restaurateurs around the country, including:Jody Adams, Tyler Akin, Akira Akuto, Kimberly Alter, Kristel Arabian, Greg Baxtrom, Rick Bayless, Sue Bette, Neal Bodenheimer, Katie Button, Sean Feeney, Kevin Fink, Mark Frier, Caroline Glover Kaitlyn Goalen, Kate Greenberg, Jason Hammel, Josh Harris, Brian Jacobs, Brandon Jew, Max Katzenberg, Thomas Keller, Joan Kim, Nick Kokonas, Katie Lazor, Donnie Madia, Neal McCarthy, Tory Miller, Carrie Morey, Elliot Nelson, Steve Palmer, Erika Polmar, Sarah Robbins, Harry Root, Andrew Rutledge, Greg Ryan, Marcus Samuelsson, Adam Saper, Alex Saper, John Schumacher, Tara Smith, Robert St. John, John Stubbs, Rico Torres, Lindsay Tusk, Nick Wasicek, Ari Weinzweig, Ellen Yin, and Kimberly Zerkel.
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