Sacramento Restaurants Join Congress Call to Save Them

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Restaurant reservations remain well below pre-Covid-19 levels. Jobs in food establishments are coming back slowly, if at all. And the money Congress set aside to help them was nowhere near enough.

Thousands of restaurateurs across the country called for help Thursday, with the Independent Restaurant Coalition saying they may have to close.

Independent restaurants have launched a new push to get Washington to send financial aid. The group secured $ 28.6 billion for the effort earlier this year and has strong congressional support to replenish the fund, but the action has been slow to come.

Biggest Concern: Restaurants across Sacramento, California and across the country will soon face cutbacks and closures.

“The time is up for the 500,000 local and independent restaurants and bars in our country, as well as the 16 million people we employ and the millions of farmers, fishermen, drink distributors and others across the country. along the supply chain, “IRC said in a statement. letter Thursday.

The letter has been approved by more than 3,000 restaurants, including four and a half pages of California restaurants. Several restaurants in the Sacramento area signed the letter, including the Devil May Care ice cream parlor and the upscale Zinfandel Grill on Fair Oaks Boulevard.

Sacramento restaurants have faced a roller coaster of closings, openings and capacity limits amid the coronavirus pandemic. At the worst of the pandemic, restaurants were only allowed to make take-out and delivery orders. When in-person meals were allowed, they were often limited to 25% or 50% of a restaurant’s indoor capacity.

Breweries have also been affected by the rules. In the Sacramento area, Elk Grove’s Flatland and Folsom’s Red Bus added wood-burning stoves to make pizza for customers, bypassing a state rule that limited brewery openings to those with kitchens serving food. to drinkers. Several California breweries co-signed the letter from the Independent Restaurant Coalition, but none were from the Sacramento area.

Nationally, the letter says, “over 86% of independent restaurants and bars like ours that have not received grants are at risk of closing permanently without relief.

Restaurant owners have called for more federal aid for restaurants, legislation approved by bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate.

Fewer customers, less credit

Restaurant reservations remain down from pre-pandemic levels across the country.

In California, Open table found bookings fell 14% on Wednesday compared to the same day in 2019, before the pandemic. Tuesday’s drop was 21%.

Nationally, nearly one in five restaurateurs said their credit score is now below 570, hampering their ability to borrow money.

The job was 11.55 million last month, up slightly from October but still 736,000 below February 2020, the month before the pandemic triggered an economic recession.

Help from Congress?

Congress earlier this year created a $ 28.6 billion fund to help restaurants. But it was far from enough help and got bogged down in legal controversy.

California had 36,379 eligible applicants for the fund; 15,988 applicants, or 43.9%, received funding.

The nationwide program received approximately 278,000 applicants for a total of $ 72.2 billion. Approximately 101,000 restaurants received the money and the average grant was $ 283,000.

The fund was originally designed to help in particular businesses owned by women, ex-combatants, “socially and economically disadvantaged” people and representing “many underserved communities”.

This sparked legal challenges. Due to a court ruling, the Small Business Administration has told thousands of small businesses with approved funds that they can no longer receive money.

This story was originally published December 9, 2021 at 12:54 pm.

David Lightman is McClatchy’s chief congressional correspondent. He has been writing, editing and teaching for nearly 50 years, with stops in Hagerstown, Riverside, California, Annapolis, Baltimore and since 1981, Washington.


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