Updated Apr 29, 2020 - Economy

Chefs push Congress to support neighborhood restaurants

José Andrés (right) on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week. Photo: CBS via Getty Images

Thousands of independent restaurant owners from across the country will join a Zoom press conference today to push Congress to create a "restaurant stabilization fund" to save small eateries that are on the brink of insolvency.

Why it matters: The federal PPP loan program doesn't work for these restaurants because of requirements to hire back employees. These establishments are closed and not generating revenue.

  • And even when restaurants reopen, they may have to cut the number of tables in half to allow for social distancing.

The new Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) is pushing for a $120 billion fund to provide direct relief to independent bars, wine bars and restaurants. 

  • An IRC official tells me these businesses expect at least a 50% revenue loss this year. With profit margins around 5%, many won't survive. So millions of people won't have jobs to go back to when this crisis is over.

Among the big-name chefs expected on today's call are José Andrés, Nina Compton, Rosa Garcia, Naomi Pomeroy and Andrew Zimmern.

  • "The restaurants we love are hurting,” Andrés, part of the IRC leadership team, said in a statement.
  • “Restaurateurs are some of the most creative, inspiring, entrepreneurial people I know and right now they need a little hope."

Naomi Pomeroy, owner of Beast in Portland, Ore., and an IRC founding member, said: "Even with the Paycheck Protection Program, I have serious doubts I’ll be able to reopen my business."

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