Cantrell Joins Mayors Urging Congress to Pass RESTAURANTS Act

NEW ORLEANS – Some acronyms roll off the tongue more smoothly than others.

The “Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive” Act (or “RESTAURANTS Act” for short) isn’t the easiest name to pronounce – but the bill’s intentions sure are good.

The proposed legislation would provide $120 billion in grants through Dec. 31 to “non-chain food and drinking establishments who have experienced a significant drop in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.” This assistance would be invaluable to the operators of New Orleans’ 1,400 restaurants – many of whom rely on a steady flow of visitors that currently doesn’t exist.

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As such, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell joined mayors from around the country to write a letter to Congress in support of the RESTAURANTS Act.

“Although many cities have allowed restaurants to operate through carry-out and delivery service since the onset of COVID-19, this sector continues to be heavily impacted by limited capacity directives and sharp declines in discretionary consumer spending prompted by the pandemic,” the letter said. “Moreover, COVID-19 is still spreading and impacting the nation. According to the CDC, as of July 27, there were over 4 million cases nationwide and approximately 150 thousand deaths. This is nearly double the number of cases from just a month prior and constitutes 26% of cases and 23% of deaths globally. As such, many jurisdictions have reversed their reopening plans and placed further restrictions on local restaurants. Unfortunately, the trade-off for these protective public health measures has been a near decimation of the local restaurant industry. With the ongoing uncertainty around the pandemic, restaurants are in urgent need of economic support in order to avoid permanent closures.”

The letter cited a National Restaurant Association report that says the industry employs more than 15 million workers nationwide. Also, according to the Bureau of Labor, the majority of restaurants are owned and operated by independent proprietors who live in the communities where they serve their customers. In addition, restaurants employ more minority managers than any other industry. 

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“Though the CARES Act was a lifeline for businesses to bridge this crisis, community restaurants continue to suffer,” the mayors wrote. “More must be done to save our local restaurants, which already operate with pre-COVID low margins, tight cash flow, and considerable debt. Meanwhile, they are responsible for employing a workforce that is dependent on jobs with low barriers to entry for their livelihood. Unless there are bold measures taken, there will be far-reaching consequences on our local workforce and economy. We urge you to pass this bill in order to keep restaurant businesses and jobs alive during these challenging times.”

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