Local restaurant and bar owners around the country formed the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) to save the small restaurants and bars affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic shutdown. The IRC was founded on the simple belief that our small businesses have the power to affect legislative change if we unite our voices.
Not only do we represent the restaurant owners, employees, and suppliers whose livelihoods are at risk – we are also fighting so we can continue serving the communities we love and know. Everyone is welcome to join our movement: together, we are fighting on behalf of 500,000 small businesses across this country, which play a key role in the $760 billion restaurant economy.
For the 11 million people across the country directly employed by independent restaurants — and the 5 million workers up and down the food supply and delivery chain who depend on our businesses — this industry 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 our collective impact is immense: as an industry, restaurants annually contribute $760 billion sales to the economy.
In March, we turned off our stoves, sheathed our knives, and closed our doors to protect our staff and cherished patrons from COVID-19. Many of us could not afford to cover basic costs and, as a result, nearly 1 in 4 jobs lost during the pandemic came from restaurants and bars.
In May, some restrictions were lifted, and many of us received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. We brought back as many workers as we could. Outdoor dining during the summer months has provided some reprieve, allowing many restaurants around the country to keep their stoves lit. But many of our PPP loans are set to expire soon, and colder weather will bring an end to eating outside. Without federal relief, local restaurants around the country will close their doors for good, crushing small business owners’ dreams and sending their workers home without paychecks.
The road to recovery for the restaurant industry is steep. Independent restaurants are small businesses but, unlike many other small businesses, our cash flow is completely dependent on sustained revenue on low profit margins. We pay today’s bills with last week’s revenue. If there is no revenue, those bills go unpaid. Economists estimate that our industry requires at least $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.
Altogether, the resulting economic fallout has been cataclysmic. Food services account for over 10% of the decrease in GDP over quarter two in 2020.
On top of all of our usual expenses, we now have to pay for PPE equipment and extra 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 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 would give our nation the opportunity to rebuild devastated communities after we push through this crisis. We are uniquely positioned to inject billions of dollars back into the economy through our supply chains and bolster employment in every community across the country. Congress must pass the RESTAURANTS Act to protect our livelihoods, and reignite our national and local economies.
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, Ken Oringer, 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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