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Restaurants Advocate Relief Funds, Multi-Decade Loans as Survival Strategies Against COVID-19 Downturn

  • Restaurant industry report says 85 percent of independent restaurants could be forced to close if relief is not forthcoming
  • One plan calls for $120 billion to support restaurants, but others support loans with extremely long terms
  • Restaurant workers make up largest category of newly unemployed as industry faces an “existential crisis”

Restaurants have been hit particularly hard by the shutdowns implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when eateries have been able to reopen or offer limited services such as curbside pickup and outdoor dining, the business is usually a fraction of pre-pandemic revenue. In areas where new COVID-19 cases have exploded, restaurants that were able to reopen have often been forced to close their doors a second time.

A report from the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which formed in March, says the restaurant industry is facing an “existential crisis,” with the pandemic resulting in about 6 million restaurant workers losing their jobs – the largest category of newly unemployed people in the U.S. The coalition warns that 85 percent of independently owned restaurants may have to close permanently if they do not receive relief.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition is advocating for $120 billion in aid to carry independent restaurants through their current economic uncertainty. This idea has led to the proposed RESTAURANTS Act, which has been introduced in the House of Representatives. However, other restaurateurs have favored long-term loans, with terms stretching for decades, to lower operating costs and spur investments among existing restaurants.

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