February 24 – White House Meets With Nearly 300 People from Independent Restaurant and Bar Community to Discuss $25 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund in American Rescue Plan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2021
White House Meets With Nearly 300 People from Independent Restaurant and Bar Community to Discuss $25 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund in American Rescue Plan
Independent Restaurant Coalition to Work with White House to Educate Restaurant and Bar Community on Relief Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Independent Restaurant Coalition held a meeting with nearly 300 people from the independent restaurant and bar community to discuss the Biden Administration’s plans for helping local restaurants and bars during the COVID pandemic. The call was led by IRC Executive Director Erika Polmar, Congressman Cedric Richmond, the senior advisor to President Biden and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Bharat Ramamurti, the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Restaurant employees and operators from across the country participated in the call and asked questions of the White House.
"The Independent Restaurant Coalition has become a powerful voice for America’s restaurant and bar community and we are thrilled to work with them to ensure this industry survives the pandemic,” said Congressman Cedric Richmond, Senior Advisor to the President, and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. “Neighborhood restaurants and bars are vital to communities across the country, and they will play a central role in putting people back to work and getting our economy back on track. The $25 billion restaurant stabilization fund in our American Rescue Plan is a necessary first step for restaurants and bars, and we look forward to collaborating with the Independent Restaurant Coalition to ensure small businesses can access this relief."
The House Budget Committee voted this week to include a $25 billion grant program – modeled after the RESTAURANTS Act – in the upcoming budget bill and COVID stimulus package. The program would award grants to eligible restaurants and bars for eligible expenses including: payroll, employee benefits, paid sick leave, mortgage, rent, utilities, building maintenance and construction of outdoor facilities, personal protective equipment, sanitizing materials, food, and debt obligations to suppliers. Money not spent on eligible expenses would be returned to the government.
“Today’s meeting with independent restaurants and bars is the beginning of a longer conversation to help ensure that small restaurants get the help they need as fast as possible,” said Bharat Ramamurti, the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. “The data is clear that the restaurant industry has been if not the most hard hit, one of the most hard hit industries because of Covid. In December, we saw that there were 400,000 job losses just in this sector.”
Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), with Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA 1), reintroduced a unified, bipartisan, $120 billion RESTAURANTS Act earlier this month. The legislation has already accumulated nearly 140 House co-sponsors and 12 in the Senate. The Senate also recently voted 90-10 in favor of creating an independent restaurant grant program in the budget bill.
"It’s clear that the White House wants to do everything possible to save independent restaurants and bars," said Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “We are grateful to the Biden Administration for listening to our community across the country, taking our concerns seriously, and building a plan that listens to our unique needs. Millions of people working in local restaurants and bars are worried about whether they’ll have a job this year. The American Rescue Plan is the first time in the last year that people are feeling hopeful about the future. We have a lot of work ahead to make sure this industry can fully reopen and re-employ 11 million people, and we look forward to working with the Biden Administration to make that happen.”
Since the outset of the pandemic, restaurants and bars have lost over 2.4 million employees as ongoing restrictions and public apprehension have driven down business. Over 110,000 restaurants and bars have closed their doors. This has disproportionately affected America’s 500,000 independent restaurants and the 11 million workers they directly employ. The Independent Restaurant Coalition has advocated for a relief fund since its founding at the outset of the pandemic.
Visit www.saverestaurants.com for more information.
ABOUT THE IRC:
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.
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