Fitzpatrick introduces legislation to support restaurants

The legislation would establish a $120 billion revitalization fund to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry because of COVID-19 and support the reemployment of 11 million workers

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1st dist.), along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Sens. Roger Wicker and Kyrsten Sinema, introduced The Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive Act of 2020. The legislation would establish a $120 billion revitalization fund to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry because of COVID-19 and support the reemployment of 11 million workers.

“Our independent, local restaurants have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to operate through takeout and delivery only, many family-operated restaurants in my community have lost thousands of dollars in potential income,” Fitzpatrick said. “The mom-and-pop diner and deli on Main Street are hurting right now. Without immediate help, these local businesses and their hardworking employees will be suffering from the economic impact of this pandemic for years to come, and that is why I am proud to partner with Congressman Blumenauer to provide them with relief through this revitalization fund.”

In April, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27 percent of total job losses in the month. Without further action from Congress, more than 11 million independent restaurant workers are at risk of permanently losing their jobs. Restaurants are facing months of massive revenue losses due to government-mandated social distancing, rising costs of supplies, new expenses for personal protective equipment and a decrease in the public’s willingness to dine out.

The legislation is supported by the Independent Restaurant Coalition. In April, the group sent a letter to Congress calling for the creation of a revitalization fund. In May, the Independent Restaurant Coalition discussed plans for a restaurant revitalization fund at a meeting with President Trump and senior White House officials.

There are about 500,000 independent restaurants in the United States, which account for about 76 percent of the 658,000 total restaurants and bars in the United States. According to a recent study, about 5.9 million restaurant jobs (an estimated 4.5 million of which are from independent restaurants) have vanished within a matter of weeks — the most of any industry and nearly double the figure from the next-most-affected industry.

In addition, the study found that 85 percent of independent restaurants are likely to close by the end of the year if direct aid like the stabilization fund is not provided to the industry. Independent restaurants are more at risk of permanently going out of business due to the pandemic because consumer spending at these establishments has been disproportionately affected and they lack the same access to capital markets. In whole, the Stabilization Fund will generate at least $183 billion in primary benefits and $65 billion in secondary benefits — more than double the amount of the proposed grants.