Jan 10, 2022 - Business

Philly pushes for more federal relief for restaurants

Illustration of a fork and knife folded in a napkin made of a hundred dollar bill.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Mayor Jim Kenney joined 24 other mayors in urging Congress to provide more aid to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Why it matters: Philly's restaurant and hospitality industry is struggling the most out of any other sector in recovering from pandemic-driven shutdowns and changes, Pew data shows.

Driving the news: Kenney signed a Jan. 7 letter to House and Senate leaders warning that "the impact on our local economies will be catastrophic" if restaurants don't receive help soon.

Flashback: The American Rescue Plan Act opened the Restaurant Revitalization Fund in May 2021, designating roughly $28 billion in grants for restaurants.

  • But the money ran out in October before many could get relief.

By the numbers: More than 700 food and drink establishments in Philly were approved for the fund — representing 19% of the city's restaurant scene, according to the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.

  • About 35% of restaurants in the state were able to get funds.
  • The Independent Restaurant Coalition estimates 86% of business owners nationwide who either didn't get grants or didn't apply are worried about closing.

State of play: U.S. senators are floating the idea of pumping more money into the relief program, but the talks are in early stages.

What they're saying: Ben Fileccia, of the Pennsylvania Lodging and Restaurant Association, said restaurants are already struggling, and now they're met with higher inflation rates and another COVID-19 surge.

  • "This is an uphill battle to even try to recover not only from right now but what has been going on for the past 20 months," he said.

Meanwhile, chef and restaurateur Tyler Akin, of Philadelphia Stock restaurants, said he's terrified about having to close soon due to a lack of finances.

  • "I am on the brink," he said.

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