Restaurant owners in western New York state have expressed concern over the loss of outdoor dining options as winter approaches.
BUFFALO, NY – As alfresco dining ends and winter weather arrives, local restaurateurs and the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA) are calling for continued covid-related restaurant aid.
On Thursday, restaurateurs in western New York, along with restaurateurs in the Capital Region and the NYSRA, came together to call on the federal government to sue the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Continuing the program would help restaurants overcome challenges they would face as outdoor dining options are being phased out due to weather conditions, according to NYSRA and restaurateurs.
Restaurant owners say they still face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. An NYSRA investigation found that 85% of restaurants have seen a reduction in indoor dining since cases started to increase. Al fresco dining has expanded their options, but this will no longer be possible for some businesses with the cold and snow on the way.
In New York State, most restaurants that requested RRF assistance received none; of those who requested it, 35% received assistance. A total of $ 9.6 billion was requested by the restaurants that applied; a total of $ 5.9 billion in aid has not been received.
“The RRF program was deemed necessary to help relieve many ailing restaurants during the height of the pandemic, but this help is still desperately needed today. Replenishing the RRF will provide additional resources to restaurants struggling to see another day and help offset the loss of income as alfresco dining is no longer a viable option. Many industry players have benefited from the RRF program, and many more deserve the same relief, ”said Melissa Fleischut, President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association.
US Representative Brian Higgins has expressed support for the request from restaurateurs in western New York.
“I rise to add my voice and support for restaurateurs in Buffalo and Western New York State, rising today to call on Congress to approve additional restaurant relief. Congress authorized, through the American Rescue Plan, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund providing $ 28.6 billion to help restaurants hit hard by the pandemic. While the program has been able to help more than 101,000 small business owners, more than 63% of eligible applicants – more than 177,000 restaurants that the Small Business Administration deemed eligible for funding – received nothing, ” Higgins said.
“Restaurants support jobs, fuel our local economies and, as gathering places for families and friends, help rebuild stronger communities. I strongly support the early replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and urge my colleagues to do the same. “
Higgins is a co-sponsor of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act which is said to provide $ 60 billion in funding nationwide. With the first RRF, $ 28.6 billion has been provided and more than $ 76 billion has been requested, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.