Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island, Queens) announced he is supporting a new proposal led by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) that would create a targeted grant program for struggling restaurants, catering halls, and live entertainment venues. According to reports, the proposal stands at $25 billion and will be included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package currently being negotiated in Congress. Under the proposal, individual restaurants or catering halls in New York could qualify for up to $10 million in aid. Schumer’s proposal will mirror many of the components of the Restaurant Act and the Save our Stages Act, which Suozzi previously co-sponsored.
“On March 22 non-essential businesses in New York shut down. The reopening and recovery of businesses has been uneven ever since.” said Congressman Suozzi. “Independently owned restaurants, catering halls, and live entertainment venues have been financially devastated by the pandemic. They need targeted, special help as they navigate the winter. Just look at all the snow we got this week, no restaurant is able to offer outdoor dining in these conditions. With Senator Schumer, Long Island and Queens restaurants and live venues have the biggest advocate in Washington. We must get this done.”
“We need to do much more to deliver the relief that is truly needed to keep New York’s restaurants alive during this crisis,” said Senator Schumer. “I have fought for months to pass the RESTAURANTS Act to deliver just this kind of critical assistance. I am proud that we have taken a major step forward in including a down-payment of $25 billion to establish a direct grant program for struggling restaurants in this budget we are currently working on. I will not stop fighting until New York’s restaurants have the relief needed to stay afloat and recover from the pandemic.”
“The restaurant and catering industries together represent the second largest employer in the country and one of the hardest-hit by this nearly year-long pandemic. Without a lifeline to help cover essential expenses such as payroll, mortgages, rent, and more, independent restaurants and catering halls will continue to shutter, some permanently. PPP is just not enough to help a business that has been virtually closed for nearly-one year. I thank both Senator Schumer and Congressman Suozzi for their ongoing efforts to keep our struggling industry a priority,” said Mickey King, President of Antun’s of Queens Village and Director of the New York Restaurant Association.
According to reports, which are subject to change during the negotiation process, the grant program would be overseen by the Small Businesses Administration and would be available to food and drinking establishments that are not part of a chain or franchise operating system with more than 20 locations. Under the proposed program, restaurants could use the grants to cover payroll, mortgages or rent, set up outdoor seating, provide personal protective equipment, paid leave for employees, or cover other expenses that have arose because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last summer, Suozzi and local restaurants and live-entertainment venues across Long Island rallied together to call for any future COVID-19 relief package to include direct, targeted relief for the entertainment and restaurant industry.
Restaurants and live entertainment venues were one of the first businesses to close at the outset of the pandemic and will be some of the last to fully reopen. According to a bi-county study released earlier last year by Nassau and Suffolk County on the economic impacts of COVID-19, the hospitality and entertainment industry lost 82,000 jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is more than any other industry on Long Island.