U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Earl Blumenauer and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Roger Wicker introduced new legislation to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a vital, financial lifeline for our independent, local restaurants that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fitzpatrick said. “Due to the overwhelming demand for relief, Congress must work together on a bipartisan basis to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as soon as possible. The mom and pop diners and delis on Main Street all across America still need our help, and we must act urgently to save our local restaurants.”
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provided $28.6 billion in grants to help restaurants, bars, food trucks, caterers, tasting rooms and taprooms recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within three weeks of the program’s opening, the Small Business Administration received more than 362,000 applications requesting more than $75 billion in funding – nearly triple the available funding – leaving nearly $50 billion in outstanding need.
The U.S. restaurant industry has suffered a quarter of all job losses during the pandemic and restaurants and bars have lost more than $280 billion in sales. More than 90,000 restaurants have permanently closed, while hundreds of thousands more have significantly scaled down their operations. Even with months of positive job growth, restaurants and bars are still nearly 1 million jobs below their pre-pandemic averages. Dining restrictions remain in more than 20 states and consumer hesitancy threatens to prolong the hardship, with 36% of diners saying they won’t resume their regular dining behavior until at least after September.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act is endorsed by the Independent Restaurant Coalition, the National Restaurant Association, the Brewer’s Association, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the James Beard Foundation, Beer Institute, Wine Institute and WineAmerica.