177,000 applicants are still waiting for funding
Part of the American Rescue Plan, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund has helped tens of thousands of restaurants and bars make ends meet during the pandemic. But, the Independent Restaurant Coalition told Congress in a letter, more is needed to keep tens of thousands more businesses from going under.
“Over 100,000 restaurants and bars received vital protections from the $28.6 billion RRF included in the American Rescue Plan, but 177,000 applicants are still waiting for funding. Over 86% of independent restaurants and bars like ours who didn’t receive grants risk closing permanently without relief,” the letter states.
The coalition is asking Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund with $60 billion to help an industry that supports 16 million jobs across 500,000 independent restaurants and bars nationwide.
The $28.6 billion in original funding covers only about 10% of the debt accrued by these establishments over the course of the pandemic.
Among the coalition concerns are these figures:
- According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 90,000 restaurants and bars have closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
- The Omicron variant is already affecting restaurant reservations in cities around the country. Reservations in Baltimore (29%), Chicago (31%), Denver (16%), New Orleans (39%), and New York (40%) are far below their 2019 levels.
- According an IRC survey, 18.3% of restaurant owners reported having their credit scores reduced below 570 during the pandemic — many of these operators cannot take on any more loans including from the remaining SBA programs like EIDL.
- According to the National Restaurant Association, 60% of adults changed their dining habits due to the Delta variant. The Omicron variant threatens to inflict the same hesitancy amongst diners around the country.
- The prices of supplies have surged in the last year including beef and veal (57%), grains (55%), eggs (36.7%) and shortening and cooking oil (41.5%).
- These businesses have a mountain of insurmountable debt that is continuing to build — 51% of restaurants could not pay their September rent.
“To date, 295 representatives in the House and 51 Senators have signed on in support” of replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, the letter states.