Chef Akin, IRC Makes Major Progress Towards Restaurant Industry Recovery
It has been a long and arduous road to change for the restaurant industry – and there is still a lot of work to be done – but celebrating victories is something that certainly needs to be celebrated.
Recently, the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout was passed, and this breakthrough will provide restaurants with $ 28.6 billion in dedicated relief funds. This essential piece of relief is geared towards an industry that has suffered astronomically – around 11 million jobs were at stake at the height of the pandemic.
“We have seen the Restaurant Law pass as part of the Heroes Law that the Senate did not vote on in the last session. We were sort of in limbo, ”says Chef Tyler Akin.
Metro spoke to the restaurateur who owns establishments in Philadelphia, such as Stock and Delaware at the Hotel Du Pont, about the ongoing fight to save restaurants in Philly. Now, Akin discusses one of those times to celebrate a long road to recovery. [to] reintroduce the bill autonomously with the same original cosponsors. Many of our cosponsors in the last session put their names on it once again, so we felt pretty good and there was a lot of indication that the will was there to provide restaurant support. Surprisingly, this framework which was the Restaurant’s Act was copied almost exactly in the American recovery plan which was adopted.
At the start of the pandemic, Akin served on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA), which represents the interests of more than 1,600 restaurants in the state, and the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), where he works with national leaders of the culinary community as well as DC lobbyists. It is with IRC that Akin and industry advocates have made significant progress.
“I think in the end we gave bipartisan support for the restaurant law,” says Akin. “We had co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle, the bill had been introduced by Democrats and Republicans respectively in each chamber. So we knew there was a belly for this program. The problem really was the transition between sessions and not knowing immediately what the priorities of the Biden administration and the new Democratic Senate would be and how they were going to approach those first big spending.
The restaurateur goes on to explain that it was: was it going to be a reconciliation strategy that they ended up using or was it going to be an omnibus spending bill that would have forced several other Republicans to buy the whole list of expenses? “So there were a lot of unknowns and obviously much bigger forces than the restaurants that were shaping this outcome … We were doing all we could and knocking on doors and communicating with lawmakers to make sure that when this big project law took shape, we were involved. Fortunately, we have been, ”concludes Akin.
At least 110,000 restaurants and bars have closed and the industry has lost more than $ 219 billion in sales since the start of the pandemic. This dedicated relief program helps protect the 11 million workers these companies employ and the 5 million more they support throughout the supply chain. The benefits cover payroll, rent and utilities, management of outdoor seating construction, food, operational expenses and more.
“We are really proud of the way the legislation has been implemented. Many of the key terms we proposed almost a year ago have survived promulgation, ”says Akin. These terms include the prioritization of women, minorities, ex-combatants and economically disadvantaged groups. Overall, $ 5 billion is reserved for restaurants that grossed less than $ 500,000 in 2019, an additional $ 4 billion is reserved for restaurants that grossed between $ 500,000 and $ 1.5 million in 2019.
“There was a real vision both to prioritize marginalized communities which in many cases did not have much success with P3s, but also to maintain this spirit of helping the real small restaurants which, in my opinion. opinions, have done less or more harm than anyone else. . “
How can restaurants apply? Resources are available at saverestaurants.com.
“It’s imperative [to apply] as soon as possible. If a restaurant hasn’t applied yet, they definitely should, ”says Akin. “What we do know is that the program is probably oversubscribed at this point, so we’re going back to legislative outreach and consensus building to replenish the fund, because what we learned from the SBA [Small Business Association] was that during these first 2 days, there was [over] 186,000 applications filed… And more than half of them belonged to this priority category.
“We know that entities from all 50 states and five US territories have applied, and we know that from those requests, [a large amount] of them came from restaurants whose amount was less than $ 500,000 in 2019, ”he continues. “So it worked. The problem now is to make sure that, given that it’s outside of those first 21 priority days for these certain groups, it’s on a first-come, first-served basis on how quickly one applied to the program. . “
The last time Metro spoke to Akin, he implored the public to do their part and try to call their local politicians to help make this happen. For this specific achievement, the IRC garnered support from the PA SouthEastern Congressional Delegation, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, Philadelphia Area, and Sen. Chris Coons, so there were plenty of people locally and regionally who have helped get them to where they are now.
“It’s going to bring a feeling and a reality of stability to a lot of people, a lot of people have gone deeply into debt over the past 14 months to keep the doors open and continue to serve their operations. I think it’s a boom for owners who won’t have mass commercial vacancies, the supply chain, I think, is going to go back to a healthier state where the type of restaurants credit on which restaurants credit had counted over the years could be reestablished – there is a lot of outstanding debt.
“Plus, I think it gives restaurants the opportunity to explore the kind of benefits we’ve all hoped to provide our employees, but due to lack of resources this hasn’t always been possible,” adds Akin. . “So that’s a lot and it’s a whole ecosystem that surrounds restaurants and I think in addition to potentially making these benefits more widespread, it allows restaurants to afford to bring back employees, which remains a challenge. for many people. . We want to see this program succeed. We want everyone who is entitled to these funds to receive them in a timely manner. So that’s really our main focus right now. “
To learn more, visit saverestaurants.com