Restaurants Cheer Federal Grant Program

The restaurant and bar industry in New York is cheering the advancement of a multi-billion dollar fund for struggling independent establishments by Congress. 

The $25 billion provision as backed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would be part of a larger $1.9 trillion COVID relief package under debate in Washington. 

“Thanks to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, restaurants and taverns across New York have good reason to be hopeful now that a Federal grant program to help these small, independent businesses has been included in the new COVID relief bill,” said Scott Wexler, the executive director of the Empire State Restaurant & Taver Assoication. “The restrictions on these businesses in order to stop the spread of COVD-19 have been a heavy burden to bear.”

The pandemic forced restaurants across the country and in New York to close for weeks, and many have stayed shuttered indefinitely. Outdoor dining, meanwhile, has provided little solace to cash-strapped restaurants in the northeast. 

Indoor dining is allowed with limited capacity in most areas of the state and will return to New York City on Feb. 14.

But restaurants have been forced to shed staff over the last 11 months in order to stay in business. 

The fund as backed by Schumer was initially set to be larger, about $120 billion. Still, the dedicated funds for the industry could provide a measure of certainty going forward.

“Until now, these businesses were on their own – struggling with lost income and rising expenses – but this news means that help could soon be on the way for the businesses that anchor our communities,” Wexler said. “If passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law, this grant program will be the salvation of thousands of small businesses across New York State.”