If you've ever worked in a restaurant, you know they operate on supremely tight margins, often month to month. As lockdowns and closures continue indefinitely amid the COVID-19 outbreak, many eateries are feeling a serious burn and may fall into financial holes they can't dig out of.
But if you've worked in restaurants you also know it's a scrappy and tight-knit industry with deep community roots and passionate people holding it all together. Several of those folks, including restaurateurs and big-name chefs like Alice Waters and Curtis Stone, have jumped into action, launching a petition on Change.org that calls for a massive and much-needed federal aid package to help save the floundering industry.
The new petition calls for lawmakers "to engage with local industry leaders and restaurant associations immediately to come to a swift plan for how you can meaningfully give your local restaurants the best chance for survival." As of 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the petition had already garnered over 78,000 signatures -- all in less than 24 hours.
Policy suggestions include:
- Providing emergency employment benefits to all hourly and salaried workers who have been laid off or suffered or lost their pay for the length of this crisis
- Waiving payroll tax
- Endorsing rent and loan abatement for workers
- Working with state liquor authorities to enable restaurants offering takeout and delivery to also sell/deliver beer, wine and cocktails by the bottle
- Waiving zoning or permit restrictions to allow restaurants to temporarily use their spaces as boutique food and beverage markets, offering an alternative to overcrowded supermarkets and by extension continuing to pay their staff and support their farms and purveyors
Many signers of the petition are fellow chefs or restaurant owners and have shared their concerns about how the pandemic is affecting their livelihood and businesses.
To sign the petition yourself, go to Change.org/SaveRestaurantsNow. You can also make dollar donations to the campaign to help get it on the desk of lawmakers as soon as possible. If you're looking for other ways to support your local restaurants, we've got ideas here, including buying gift cards to use later or purchasing cookbooks and other gear from some of your favorites.
This article was originally published on Chowhound.