A report released this week indicates that thousands of New York restaurants still need help recovering from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) issued a release indicating roughly 18,000 restaurants in the state have applications pending for Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants. The national group, in concert with state associations, sent a letter to congressional leaders that day urging them to back replenishing the fund.
The business groups say it’s essential that more funding becomes available. They cite the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant and the steps some cities, counties and states have taken, which have affected member establishments. That includes New York City, where a vaccine mandate for indoor dining was implemented earlier this month.
An NRA survey conducted two weeks ago found that nearly 20% of U.S. adults have stopped going to restaurants. In addition, 37% have opted for takeout or delivery rather than eating at an establishment, while 19% are seeking outdoor dining options.
The survey also found that mask and vaccine mandates would also have an impact on restaurant dining. In both instances, 32% of those surveyed said they’d be less likely to go out to eat if a city, county or state implemented a mask or vaccine mandate.
Conversely, 25% of adults said a mask mandate would make them more likely to dine in, while a vaccine requirement would encourage 33% to do so.
The survey also found stark differences between generations and political views. Democrats and adults from Gen Z, typically defined as the generation of people born starting in 1997, were more likely to go out because of mask and vaccine mandates. Republicans, rural residents and Generation X, people born between 1965 and 1980, were less likely.
The remainder – 43% for mask mandates and 35% for vaccine mandate – said such requirements would not impact their decisions.
With significant portions of the population saying mandates or no mandates will affect their decisions, dining industry officials say it puts establishments at risk. Many have already found the past 18 months difficult due to social distancing and capacity requirements that were relieved just months ago.
“For an industry that requires a ‘full house’ every evening to make a profit, this is a dangerous trend,” Sean Kennedy, NRA’s executive vice president of Public Affairs, said in a statement. “These changes indicate declining consumer confidence that will make it more difficult for most restaurant owners to maintain their delicate financial stability.”
Beyond a diverging customer base, the national association also said restaurants across the country have to deal with other issues, too. Labor costs are as high as they’ve been in a decade, and prices for food and other supplies have also risen.
That’s why industry leaders are calling on Congress to refill RRF funding and then some.
The American Rescue Plan Act, which passed earlier this year, included $28.6 billion in grant funding for restaurants. Still, that only covered about a third of the applicants. Nationally, there are still approximately 177,000 establishments that have applied for funds.
Those still waiting would be helped by a bipartisan bill filed by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn. That legislation would provide $60 billion in funding to cover the rest of the applications.
H.R. 3807, the Restaurant Revitalization Act of 2021, has 213 co-sponsors, a majority of the House of Representatives. That includes 21 of New York’s House members.
New York restaurants would be in line to receive about $6 billion from the bill. Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, said in a statement the delta variant and potential for mandates are putting more establishments on the brink of closure.
“New York State has the nation’s second highest number of restaurants in limbo, waiting to find out if Congress will act to provide the stability they need to make it through this new pandemic threat and into the future … It’s time for Congress to step in and fulfill the promise of the RRF,” she said.
The NRA survey was conducted online by Engine with adults 18 and older responding. No margin of error was listed.
This article was originally posted on Industry group says 18,000 New York restaurants in dire need of additional financial aid