Majority of US independent restaurants say they will close without funding

More than 82 percent of independent restaurant operators say they will likely permanently close if the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is not replenished.

More than 82 percent of independent restaurant operators say they will likely permanently close if U.S. Congress does not quickly replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), according to a new survey.

Independent restaurant operators from across the country called on members of the U.S. House Small Business Committee to make restaurant relief a priority during a markup of the budget reconciliation package at an Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) press conference on 9 September.

IRC’s new survey also found that 85 percent of restaurant and bar owners did not receive a RRF grant. Without these grants, more than 82 percent of restaurant and bar owners are concerned they will have to close their doors, IRC said in a press release.

In addition, 18.3 percent of restaurant owners said their credit scores were reduced below 570 during the pandemic, so they cannot take on more loans.

“Hundreds of thousands of neighborhood restaurants and bars are now teetering on the brink of permanent closure,” IRC Executive Director Erika Polmar said.

More than 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed since the start of the pandemic, Polmar noted, and “we do not want any more to close their doors because Congress and the Biden Administration have not provided the relief they need to survive.”

“The only thing that will save these small businesses that support 16 million jobs is refilling the RRF,” Polmar added.

The RRF is a grant relief program modeled after the USD 120 billion (EUR 101 billion) RESTAURANTS Act. The grant program provides debt-free support in the amount of annual revenue lost from 2019 and 2020, with special provisions for businesses that opened in 2020 and 2019, according to the IRC.

Brooklyn, New York-based The Food Sermon Owner Rawlston Williams said the company “had to close our business during the beginning of the pandemic just to survive.”

“We reopened in August of 2020 and have lost money ever since. On Friday, we closed our doors again. We need the RRF to be able to diversify our offerings, where we’re not only relying on foot traffic,” Williams said.

Lindsay Tusk, co-owner of Cotogna, Quince, and Verjus in San Francisco, California, said that all three restaurants were doing well prior to the pandemic.

“Award-winning, thriving places employing over 200 people. A lot of hard work but a success story all around,” Tusk said.

That’s in sharp contrast to what’s transpired since the pandemic took root, she added.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve been in a never-ending tailspin,” Tusk said.

The rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the rapidly spreading delta variant will likely impact restaurant operations and sales for the rest of this year, according to both IRC and the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

Nineteen percent of Americans surveyed by NRA said they have completely stopped going out to restaurants, while 37 percent are ordering take-out or delivery instead of dining at a restaurant, according to the organization. In addition, 32 percent of those surveyed said that, if they are asked to wear a mask or show proof of vaccination to dine indoors again, they will be less likely to dine in a restaurant.

Photo courtesy of Master1305/Shutterstock


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