Are restaurants ever going to get a bailout?

[how many restaurants closed due to covid]
Yelp data reported that 61% of restaurants and eateries in the U.S.closed their doors, never to reopen.

Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive: That’s the full name of the bill dubbed the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020. Oregon representative Earl Blumenauer got it to pass the house and now it sits in front of the Senate. The bill proposes $120 billion be administered by the U.S. Treasury Department to ailing restaurants, cafés, and other food and drink establishment types.

[outdoor dining in cold weather]
Diners are bundling up to give business to their local establishments that are barely surviving on outdoor dining.

PPP was designed with small businesses in mind, but there was no blocking the bigger operations from tapping into it. The program was set up so that businesses had to go to private lenders to administer the funds under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 7(a) program, which led to a host of other issues, particularly around granting loans to businesses owned by women or minorities. And most of the people who need it don’t qualify for loan forgiveness—making it even more difficult for the new or struggling business owner.

That said, this bill is putting major limitations on the big guys ensuring they don’t get access to the money, even under their many aliases. Here are some of the high-level take-aways:

  • To qualify, you can’t be publicly traded or part of a chain with 20+ locations

  • For the first 14 days, only restaurants making $1.5 million or less in annual revenue can apply

  • The grant money can be used for just about anything from payroll to leases and debts.

  • $300 million is being set aside to support women and minorities, with $60 million in direct outreach to marginalized and underrepresented communities.

Organizations like the Independent Restaurant Coalition support the move and are trying to urge the Senate with a special “take action” initiative >

Here’s where the bill sits in Congress, which has been gathering dust since June. House democrats have proposed to include it as part of 2.0 version of the HEROES Act as part of the new economic relief package, but the two parties remain divided and revisions keep rolling in.