It directly relates to the recent restrictions decreasing capacity and closures.
By fall, many restaurants say they could be facing permanent closure.
“Leisure and Hospitality Industry has counted for over 20 percent jobs loss in Kentucky,” said Edward Lee, the James Beard Award-winning chef with two restaurants in Louisville.
Lee has joined the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a grassroots group formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners in late March.
Lee says, while the most recent HEALS Act contains more PPP loans for restaurants, it’s just not enough.
That’s why the restaurant industry is calling on Senator Mitch McConnell to include a $120 billion Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
“As a restaurateur and someone who had seen my personal revenue drop by over 75 percent, right now we’re looking at basically having more debt and more loans is not going to solve the question or my restaurant inevitably closing in the next few months,” Lee said.
Kentucky restaurant owners and advocates are urging Congress to pass this Restaurants Act and provide direct federal aid for independent restaurants and bars who could face mass permanent closures as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Lee says he needs at least 50 percent capacity to continue operating with lights on. At the moment in Kentucky capacity is at 25 percent.
“As a restaurant we are put in a very precarious situation and unfair situations where we are being asked to shut down and to be safe which is what we want to do both for ourselves and for our team members, for our customers, for everyone at hand but at the same we are given no aid,” Lee said.
He acknowledges that while the numbers for COVID-19 cases do spike when places open and reduce when their businesses close, he’s looking for a long term solution to survive the pandemic.
The bill has been introduced in Congress.
If passed, the funds would be made available to any business that is not part of a chain or franchise.