The House already has passed a bill that serves the purpose. The RESTAURANTS Act — it is an acronym, but we won’t bore you with the full name — would provide up to $120 billion in grants to independent restaurants, small restaurant chains (with fewer than 20 locations) and catering firms. The aid would cover the difference between last year’s revenues and this year’s revenues, and could be used to cover most expenses, including payroll.
A pending Senate version, which has bipartisan backing, would provide aid to big chains, too. McDonald’s and its ilk don’t need the money, but it’s easy to imagine a deal.
Representative Earl Blumenauer, the Oregon Democrat who sponsored the House bill, said he’s been heartbroken by the growing roll call of restaurant failures in his Portland district, punching holes in the fabric of his community. The money is intended to get restaurants through winter, when outdoor dining is less tenable in many parts of the country. “It’s a bridge to better weather,” he said.
Providing aid to restaurants also could make it easier for cities to suspend indoor dining.