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A Republican-backed “skinny” stimulus bill that would have offered a modest extension of federal unemployment insurance through December and allowed businesses to apply for a second Paycheck Protection loan failed last week. Many reportedly see Washington lawmakers at a stalemate on economic stimulus, at least until after the election.
Elizabeth Blau, co-owner of the Las Vegas restaurant Honey Salt and founder and CEO of Blau + Associates, responded to that news and urged restaurant operators across the country to contact their local lawmakers in an effort to save the restaurant industry:
Last Friday was a sad day for many reasons. In addition to remembering all those who lost their lives in the tragic 9/11 attack almost 20 years ago, our hearts weighed heavy as we read the inexplicable and enraging news of yet another disappointing stalemate in Washington, D.C.
This is 2020 — and thanks to COVID-19, one of the world’s most beloved industries is now broken and on its knees. We are the restaurant industry, and amidst the catastrophic impact of the pandemic, we are desperate for help because our industry is too important ... too cherished.
As American restaurants die, so dies the American Dream. A dream that used to begin anew every year when millions of teenagers across America entered a rite of passage: a restaurant job. For many of them — for many of us — this was their first experience in discovering the indelible lessons and rewards of hard work, maturity, responsibility and pride in a job well done.
But now, the restaurant industry is intubated — lying on its deathbed as the government fails, once again, to introduce a meaningful and effective solution. Why? Because that’s politics — and it doesn’t matter how many hard-working, well-deserving business owners are destroyed in the process.
Is that the American Dream? Leaving your people unsupported at a time when they need it most urgently?
We are out of time and need support immediately. If not, our country as we know it will never be the same. We need federal grants, including a Restaurants Act bill, to pass now if we want to save the American Dream — not more loans — and a comprehensive relief plan.
The intravenous drug cocktail we call the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, and the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are not enough. Those funds were depleted months ago. And today, America’s restaurants are still dying. We read their obituaries daily and gasp when one of our favorites shutters for good.
After a one-month recess, Congress returned and nothing was accomplished. Let’s stop wasting precious time and save our people once and for all.
We need legislation to address multiple issues: business liability insurance protecting restaurateurs; tax credits incentivizing restaurants to remain open (or to reopen); enforcement of business interruption insurance; expanding eviction timelines; clear explanation of what constitutes a “restaurant” as compared to a “bar” or “tavern;” and the ensuing capacity limitations and ways landlords and tenants can reach mutually beneficial resolution caused by the forced closures.
Congress is failing our restaurant industry, and in doing so, failing the American people and forsaking the American Dream. No American city will rebound from this crisis without its restaurants — that much I can guarantee. Put partisan politics aside and send us a lifeline.
Elizabeth Blau is co-owner of the Las Vegas restaurant Honey Salt and founder and CEO of Blau + Associates.