Restaurant owners in New York are calling for Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that would provide the restaurant and catering industry with $120 billion in federal assistance.
Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO of the tourism company Discover Long Island, said restaurants are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The Independent Restaurant Coalition estimates that 85% of restaurants could close their doors for good by the end of the year, without additional financial help.
“It’s not just about opening up the businesses. It’s about consumer confidence right now," Jarnagin said. "And we’re really struggling with getting people to feel comfortable going back out and communicating safety.
Jarnagin joined a virtual meeting with Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi, who co-sponsors the bill. He said the legislation could save restaurants from going under due to COVID-19.
Suozzi said only restaurants that make less than $1.5 million a year would be able to apply during the first two weeks of the program.
“The idea of the grant is to provide a grant directly to restaurants and caterers that looks to cover the difference between their 2019 and their projected 2020 revenues," Suozzi said. "Now it's designed to go to the small guys first, because we saw with the PPP that a lot of the money got taken by the big guys.”
Discover Long Island is offering Nassau and Suffolk County businesses free safety signage, and has hired a doctor to help them implement safety protocols.