The Restaurant Industry Just Got A Big Win From Washington, D.C.

Restaurant owners and employees struggling during the pandemic may have found new hope on their long road to revitalization. For the last two years, the restaurant industry has suffered consistent financial blows. According to the 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry report, eateries made $240 billion less than the organization had predicted pre-pandemic, with more than 110,000 establishments closing their doors for good. And while the situation has improved since then, experts predict that newly accelerating sales won't be "nearly enough to make up for the substantial losses experienced in 2020."

One of the earlier pandemic programs designed to support struggling businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program, proved controversial, according to The New York Times. While intended to provide relief to employees at closed or threatened companies, the program instead mostly benefitted higher-ups. Next up was the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, developed to cover eateries' lost revenue, per the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Those accepted to the program received nearly $30 billion total, but two-thirds of applicants were left without financial assistance. Emboldened by these numbers and restaurants' requests for support, U.S. representatives have recently helped lead the charge to replenish the relief fund.

The new bill provides hope for restaurants

Last month, restaurants were delivered a big blow by Washington, D.C., when the Restaurant Revitalization Fund was left out of the federal budget. This month, however, the news is much brighter for these businesses: The House of Representatives has agreed to allocate $42 billion to restaurants that applied to the RRF but did not receive funding the first time around, according to Food & Wine. On Twitter, the Independent Restaurant Coalition celebrated the news, calling it  "a big win" for the industry.

The bill will now move on to the Senate, where it may face additional challenges. However, Restaurant Business reports that because bipartisan senators have shown support for the legislation, it may be more seriously considered by Congress than past relief bills. Says bill co-author Rep. Earl Blumenauer to Nation's Restaurant News, "I'm convinced more than ever that [helping the restaurant community] is going to be essential if we are going to be able to fully recover from the COVID crisis." He went on to say that providing relief to restaurants "shouldn't be this hard," expressing hope that because this bill will be funded in part by recovered money that was wrongly allocated in previous relief programs, it will be passed by the Senate.