UPDATE: Restaurant Relief Shortchanged: Demand Congress Replenish the RRF! | Downs Rachlin Martin SARL


In July last year, we blogged about how the Federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) had to close shortly after it opened in May 2021 because it ran out of relief funds. The RRF was intended to help restaurants, bars, breweries, etc. to survive the pandemic by granting them funds to compensate for their loss of income during the calendar year 2020 due to the shutdown of the pandemic. When the RRF ceased operations, it had received 370,000 applications but funded only 105,000, well under a third, when its $28 billion in congressional funding ran out. This unmet need included 581 Vermont restaurants that applied but received no funding. Immediately, some restaurant industry advocates, including Sue Bette of the Bluebird BBQ restaurant in Burlington, Vermont, went to work urging Congress to replenish the fund for restaurants that had applied but walked away empty-handed. So far, Congress has not acted to reconstitute the RRF.

Here is what Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the National Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), said recently:

“Congress and the Biden administration cannot wait until February to relieve neighborhood restaurants and bars. The IRC has been advocating for relief with senior White House officials for months and hopes they understand the seriousness of the situation facing restaurants nationwide. Dozens of restaurants have contacted the Independent Restaurant Coalition in the past few days just because they ran out of options – they are declaring bankruptcy, temporarily closing and worrying about the health and financial well-being of their employees. Restaurants are tired and running out of resources after spending 22 months closing, reopening, pivoting, closing again and pivoting again. We estimate that over 150,000 restaurants and bars could close if the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is not fully funded this winter. Congress and the Biden administration must finish what they started and fully fund the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

As we suggested in our July blog post, you can help! You can write to Vt. Congressman Peter Welch (here), Senator Patrick Leahy (here) and Senator Bernie Sanders (here) and remind them that struggling restaurants in Vermont (and the United States) have been particularly hard hit by the closure of the pandemic and need our help. Or, contact the Coalition of Independent Restaurants and add your voice to their ongoing advocacy work!


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