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
Local, independent restaurants are the backbone of our communities, tourism, and redevelopment in every corner of the U.S. We directly employ over 11 million people across the country, and indirectly employ over 5 million workers up and down the food supply and delivery chain — from growers, packers, fisherman, linen services, delivery people and more — whose livelihoods depend on each sale our restaurants and bars make. We also contribute significantly to the $760 billion in annual sales in the restaurant economy.
As the Coronavirus spread around the country, we turned off our stoves, sheathed our knives, and even closed our doors to protect our teams and loyal patrons. With our revenue streams coming to a sudden halt, many of us could not even pay our staff. In turn, a staggering 5.9 million restaurant jobs (at least 4.5 million of which are from independent restaurants) have vanished within a matter of weeks— the highest of all industries by far, nearly doubling the figure from the next most affected industry. In fact, job losses in the restaurant industry account for more than a quarter of the increase to the U.S. unemployment figures since February, figures that have not been seen since the Great Depression.
As a result of mass restaurant closures and decreases in sales, millions of our suppliers will have their bills go unpaid, creating an unprecedented trickle down effect of economic damage to local restaurants and the small businesses that rely on them. We are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities, and we need help.
Independent restaurants are small businesses. But, unlike many other small businesses, our cash flow is completely dependent on current 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 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.
On top of all of our usual expenses, we will also now have new unforeseen expenses upon reopening, such as 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, representing landlords, farmers, fishermen, bakers, and others left waiting in this time of need. As the country acclimates to the coronavirus paradigm, capacity restrictions, and public hesitancy to return to restaurants, restaurants face near-insurmountable barriers to returning to normal revenue. In a recent survey conducted by the James Beard Foundation, independent restaurant owners estimated 60% capacity as the minimum required to reopen their businesses. For many, this will be impossible to achieve while adhering to social distancing practices.
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.”
Providing economic assistance for the independent restaurant industry is one of the most critical investments to bring our economy back, and the most visible step to give all Americans confidence that we will all come out of this. 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.
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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