Home » Restaurant relief act: Where is Staten Island on the bailout bill?

Restaurant relief act: Where is Staten Island on the bailout bill?

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis has signed onto a bill that, if passed, will provide funding to eating and drinking establishments with fewer than 20 locations. It also would afford special considerations for businesses owned by women, veterans and people of color.

Her predecessor, Max Rose, had also supported the bill.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon had introduced the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020 over the summer, legislation to create a $120 billion grant relief program focused on the nation’s food service community. The industry continues to suffer in the pandemic with shutdowns and dining restrictions that vary from state to state.

The word “RESTAURANTS” in the bill stands for “the real economic support that acknowledges unique restaurant assistance needed to survive.” Some of its highlights include grant monies intended to fill shortfalls in revenue that occurred between 2019 and 2020. In the first two weeks of the grant’s availability small restaurants — those with fewer than $1.5 million in sales — will be prioritized. According to a study on the proposal at least $183 billion would be generated in primary benefits and $65 billion in secondary benefits, exceeding the dollar amount of designated monies.

“I’ve seen first hand the damage Gov. Cuomo and May de Blasio’s arbitrary stay-at-home orders and closure mandates have caused,” said the congresswoman.

She said in a statement, “As we now know more about COVID, therapeutics have become available and more Americans are vaccinated, I’ve advocated for a more balanced approach to reopening. It’s past time for us to responsibly reopen our economy and help get Americans back to work but we must provide restaurants the financial support they desperately need due to the government’s actions.”

One of the most vocal proponents of RESTAURANTS Act is Massimo Felici of Stapleton’s VINUM and The Richmond who also runs the food service contract at Casa Belvedere, Grymes Hill. He said the bill in its current state was “on point.”

He explained, “They are bailing out theaters, rightly so, but we are the most affected and devastated industry in the country. We are the number one employer in the country and we need that bailout to bring back our businesses to stay afloat and survive until we get back to 100{431c92db2ef93c421a350be785d244bd702e2c73a34f2b6f60cd8fd62b61507d}. If we survive we will bring back more jobs.”

Felici added that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a “bandaid to cover a shotgun wound.”

In January, a round of PPP authorized up to $284 billion for job retention and more through March 31, 2021. It additionally allowed some prior PPP borrowers to apply for another loan, according to an Advance report.

According to Malliotakis’ office, “More than one in six restaurants (110,000) have permanently closed across the country, including roughly 1,300 restaurants and bars in New York City. These closures have left more than 2.3 million food service professionals without a job, with 372,000 food service jobs lost in December alone.” About 75{431c92db2ef93c421a350be785d244bd702e2c73a34f2b6f60cd8fd62b61507d} of New York State has restrictive, state-mandated dining rules which continues to decimate the industry and its suppliers.

Indoor dining resumes on Feb. 14 in NYC at 25{431c92db2ef93c421a350be785d244bd702e2c73a34f2b6f60cd8fd62b61507d} capacity which restaurant owners say is too low of a number for them to sustain themselves in the long-term.

Malliotakis’ office maintains, “By not expanding restaurant capacity, the governor is incentivizing household gatherings where no social distancing, mask-wearing or sanitation guidelines are in place, and where his own contact tracers say 74{431c92db2ef93c421a350be785d244bd702e2c73a34f2b6f60cd8fd62b61507d} of the spread is occurring.”

In early November, according to former Congressman Rose’s office, the RESTAURANTS Act had stalled. At the time a congressional hopeful, Malliotakis said she would pick up advocacy of the bill if elected.

Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at [email protected]