Activists Call on Senators to Pass The RESTAURANTS Act

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Prominent South Florida Restaurateurs Call on Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to Pass The RESTAURANTS Act and Protect 429,000 Florida Jobs and $50 Billion Restaurant Economy

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Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund Would Inject $12 billion into Florida’s Economy, Ensure 44,000 Small Farms Stay in Business 

Legislation is Supported By Florida Suppliers Like Cheney Brothers, Bacardi, and Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits 

IRC Members Call On Senators To Support The RESTAURANTS Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, prominent Florida restaurateurs and Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) members called on Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) to support the RESTAURANTS Act. On the press call, Florida restaurateurs Sunil Bhatt, Ignacio Garcia-Menocal, and Bradley Kilgore asked the senators to support the legislation and outlined its potential impacts on the state and national economies.

The RESTAURANTS Act would establish a $120 billion Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund geared toward assisting small restaurants and bars impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, the legislation was introduced on a bipartisan basis in both the Senate by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and in the House by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3). The legislation already boasts nearly 60 cosponsors in the House and 5 cosponsors in the Senate, including Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

“I've crunched the numbers and we're looking at a 65% loss in revenue this year due to COVID– that's just not sustainable without help,” said Sunil Bhatt, CEO of The Genuine Hospitality Group in Miami and a member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition’s leadership team. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been unstoppable in Florida and it could take the entire restaurant industry down with it. A restaurant operation isn’t simply a lightswitch you can turn off and on. Senator Rubio and Senator Scott need to support the RESTAURANTS Act to give Florida’s restaurants a fighting chance to pull through this crisis.”

The Economic Benefits Of The Fund

According to a recent economic report from Compass Lexecon, the fund would return up to $271 billion in economic benefits, as well as reducing nationwide unemployment by 2.4%. The legislation would be particularly impactful in Florida, where the leisure and hospitality industry has contributed to nearly half of all jobs lost since March.

The IRC projects the RESTAURANTS Act would:

  • Generate $12 billion in economic benefits for Florida.
  • Protect 429,000 Floridian jobs.
  • Protect Florida’s tourism industry, which stands to benefit $6.6 billion from the RESTAURANTS Act, the 4th largest gain in the nation.
  • Help ensure Florida's 44,400 small farms stay in business, along with providing $1.1 billion in economic benefits directly to suppliers like bakers, fishermen, butchers, and others.

“Independent restaurants have been uniquely affected by the pandemic,” said Ignacio Garcia-Menocal, CEO at Grove Bay Hospitality Group in Miami. “Our businesses run on uniquely small profit margins, and most of what we make goes right back into the communities we serve. Florida’s independent restaurants fuel a huge network of over 44,000 small farms, bakers, distillers, and other businesses that rely on people dining out. The RESTAURANTS Act won’t just help us, it ensures the farmers and fishermen across the state can grow their businesses and maintain their relationships with local restaurants and bars. This isn’t just about protecting our state’s culturally rich dining scene – it’s about preserving Floridians’ way of life.”

Major Companies Announce Their Support

Yesterday, several major U.S. corporations announced their support for the RESTAURANTS Act. The companies – American Express, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt Hotels, Resy, Sysco, and US Foods – warned Congress that, without restaurants, “every one of our businesses would be impacted and the economic framework of cities and towns across all parts of the United States would be dramatically altered for the worse.” They concluded that “Congress must pass The RESTAURANTS Act of 2020 in the coming weeks.”

Last week, over 215 small businesses that supply restaurants also called for the passage of the RESTAURANTS Act. Among the small businesses were prominent Florida supplier companies such as Bacardi, Cheney Brothers Food Distribution, and Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits. According to a recent economic report from Compass Lexecon, restaurants’ and bars’ suppliers employ over 5 million workers across the country.

“It’s completely unrealistic to expect restaurants to simply ride out these prolonged closings and come out with their doors still open,” said Bradley Kilgore, a chef and owner at Kilgore Culinary Group and a member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition’s leadership team. “It's like states are asking chefs to cut a chicken, but taking away their knife and cutting board. We don’t have the tools to succeed but are expected to continue contributing to a $50 billion economy. Takeout and delivery won’t be enough. The Paycheck Protection Program loans have not been enough. We need Congress to support the Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is the only way Florida’s tens of thousands of small bars and restaurants come back from this crisis.”

The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners across the country.