RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 is ‘Light at the End’ of Harsh Pandemic
Some industries have started to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but the restaurant industry has not been so lucky. According to National Restaurant Association (NRA) Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy, the sector finished 2020 in a double-dip recession with 2.5 million fewer jobs. But help appears to be on the way in the form of bipartisan legislation.
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., have introduced the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2021. The proposal seeks to establish a $120 billion revitalization fund to support independent restaurants and small franchisees as they cope with the long-term structural challenges posed to the industry by COVID-19.
According to Kennedy, this may provide the relief that has been long needed. “The unified RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 is a light at the end of a long, dark winter for independent, chain and franchise restaurants that have been most impacted by the pandemic,” he stated. “These grants will put even the hardest-hit restaurants on the path to economic survival.”
The restaurant industry, he recalls, was the first to be shut down by the states and NRA quickly asked Congress for an industry-specific fund that would help sustain its businesses. “For nearly a year, the association, our members and hundreds of thousands of our grassroots advocates have shared our experiences with Congress,” Kennedy continued. “And they listened.”
The bill, he notes, reflects the unified view that all small restaurants should have access to relief no matter whether they are an independent or a franchise of a regional chain. “We appreciate the strong bipartisan leadership of Senators Roger Wicker and Kyrsten Sinema and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Brian Fitzpatrick in creating and improving this bill,” Kennedy added. “Their willingness to work with us has strengthened it and ensures that the support it creates will reach into every community across the country.”
The foodservice industry, he notes, stands as the nation’s second-largest private-sector employer with an economic impact of more than $2.5 trillion annually. “To once again be the engine that the economy relies on, our members need the help that only the RESTAURANTS Act can provide,” Kennedy stated. “We look forward to working together with Congress [to] ensure the support needed to pass this bill.”