As every second ticks by, the survival rate of restaurants falls away. In an attempt to fight back against spikes in COVID-19 cases, states have mandated the closures of indoor dining at restaurants.
Closing restaurants or restricting their operations, allowing them to reopen, then closing them again puts them in an untenable situation. The industry is, essentially, in free fall.
According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), recent mandates have closed 100,000 restaurants. As more governors impose restrictions on restaurants, that number will climb.
Bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues have been hit particularly hard by closures. In some states, like Texas, outdated or inaccurate definitions of restaurants and bars have forced the latter to be closed unfairly.
There are—or, after months of closures, were—nearly a million foodservice locations throughout the United States. The industry employs the second-largest private sector workforce—15.6 million people before the coronavirus descended upon the nation.
The NRA published an updated version of their Blueprint for Restaurant Revival this week. In just nine pages, more than concise enough for any representative or senator and their aides to read through quickly, the association lays out a plan that can help restaurants survive in the short-term and provide long-term recovery for the industry as a whole.
According to the NRA, the industry may lose more than $240B by the end of this year if things don’t improve. The time to turn things around and reduce the loss of jobs, businesses and revenue, is slipping away.
To vent the frustration that many operators and industry professionals have been feeling for far too long, the provisions in the NRA Blueprint should’ve been taken up by Congress months ago.
Among the short-term solutions presented by the NRA:
- The creation of a Restaurant Recovery Fund. The RESTAURANTS Act is included in this provision.
- Opening a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications, complete with changes to make the program more successful.
- Building on the second provision, making PPP loans tax deductible and eliminating tax liability for taking the loans.
- Creating a long-term program separate from the PPP, offering a maximum of six months of support, to include providing for operation costs.
- Adjusting the Employee Retention Tax Credit so restaurants can seek support after their PPP loans run out.
- Replenishing Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs).
- Tax credits for employee and customer wellness, helping restaurants to recover capital spent to operate safely and responsibly during the pandemic.
- The enactment of temporary, targeted protections to protect restaurants from frivolous and fraudulent lawsuits.
I encourage everyone in the industry to read over the entire NRA Blueprint. It’s certainly worth everyone’s time to review the full document. The letter the NRA drafted and sent to Congress and Senate can be found here. Tell Congress to pass the RESTAURANTS Act by clicking this Independent Restaurant Coalition link.
I’ve been studying and writing about the hospitality industry since 2006. Like so many people, I started my journey in this business by working as a host, server and bartender. I was introduced to nightlife in Chicago, learning the ins and outs of nightclubs and after-hours hot spots.
After moving to Las Vegas nearly 20 years ago, I both co-owned a valet company and helped promote the club it serviced. That led to me taking on the role of editor for a Las Vegas hospitality industry publication.
A few short years later, I continued along my journey of hospitality industry reporting. I went from contributing to a major industry outlet to taking on the role of editor and content curator.