Since the start of the pandemic, restaurant owners, workers, and fans have been calling for a bailout, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is here to report help is finally on the way. “It was a long, hard road, but we got there. We got there,” he says.
Schumer relayed on the Eater’s Digest podcast this week that the $28.6 billion carve-out in the new $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will be replenished should it run out. The program allows for grants — not loans — for full 2020 losses for owners of food businesses, including food trucks, caterers, brewpubs, and brick-and-mortar restaurants. Solo operators can claim up to $5 million in grants and groups (so long as they have fewer than 20 locations) can claim up to $10 million. “And here’s the good news,” he says, noting his confidence in the money being renewed, “This was bipartisan. This wasn’t Democrat or Republican.”
Schumer credits the work of the Independent Restaurant Coalition and their lobbying efforts across America over the last year with the success of the bill. “They did lobbying in most states. So when I went to people and said, ‘We have to do this,’ I got a lot of good positive reception,” he says. “They actually made sure we talked to different restaurateurs of different types and that mattered. And not just the owners, but the workers too. I went to a whole bunch of restaurants where the owner told me of their travails, but then I spoke to the workers and you feel for them and you ache for them. You don’t want them to lose their jobs.”
As far as getting the funds, Schumer is confident the process will run more smoothly than the first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans last April and says the Small Business Administration is ready to get the money out quickly and fairly, while making it easy for restaurant owners to apply.