Restaurants worry bipartisan coronavirus deal is cutting them out

The Independent Restaurant Coalition, a group of chefs and owners formed to advocate for aid during the pandemic, has been decrying the emerging proposal throughout the last month as insufficient. Instead they’re urging Congress to pass the RESTAURANTS Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide $120 billion in grants to smaller bars and restaurants to make up revenue lost due to coronavirus…

But so far the legislation has been left out of bipartisan talks that have proposed $300 billion in new loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided financial support to businesses before ending in August. The emerging deal does include targeted relief for live theater and music venues, but not a large-scale plan for restaurants along the lines of the RESTAURANTS Act.

Restaurant owners who can demonstrate revenue losses of 30 percent would be able to apply for the next round of PPP loans, which can be forgiven if owners meet requirements to spend a certain amount paying workers. But the IRC argues the program has been harder for smaller restaurants to access through banks and that its rules make it harder for owners to address costs like rent, utilities, new health measures, and paying suppliers.