Back in July of last year, we blogged about the fact that the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) had to shut down shortly after it opened in May 2021, because it ran out of relief funds. The RRF was intended to help restaurants, bars, brewpubs, etc., survive the pandemic by granting them funds to make up for their revenue losses in calendar year 2020 due to the pandemic shutdown. When the RRF ceased operating, it had received 370,000 applications but had funded only 105,000 of those, i.e., far less than one third, when its Congressional funding of $28 Billion was exhausted. That unmet need included 581 Vermont restaurants that applied but did not receive any funds. 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 those restaurants that had applied but went away empty-handed. So far, Congress has not acted to replenish the RRF.
Here’s what Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the national Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), recently had to say:
“Congress and the Biden administration cannot wait until February to deliver relief for neighborhood restaurants and bars. The IRC has been making the case for relief with senior White House officials for months and hope they understand the gravity of the situation facing restaurants nationwide. Dozens of restaurants have contacted the Independent Restaurant Coalition in just the past few days because they are out of options – they are declaring bankruptcy, closing temporarily, and concerned for the health and financial wellbeing of their employees. Restaurants are tired and 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 isn’t fully funded this winter. Congress and the Biden Administration need to 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 Vermont’s (and America’s) struggling restaurants were especially hard hit by the pandemic shutdown and need our help. Or, contact the Independent Restaurant Coalition and add your voice to their ongoing advocacy work!