—Reps. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) and Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne) today announced they will introduce legislation to help restauranteurs who have been financially hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic.
“While the business closures caused by COVID-19 have impacted many industries in Pennsylvania, our restaurants have been devasted by this pandemic,” Stephens said.
“Our restaurants have been financially devastated by this crisis. Even while many retail establishments have been allowed to safely reopen using CDC guidelines, restaurants, even in communities allowed to slowly reopen, face severe limits on seating capacities, which in turn limits their revenue stream and hinders their ability to overcome financial distress,” Kaufer said. “These restaurant owners’ livelihoods are on the line and they are in desperate need of assistance. Our legislation seeks to address that.”
Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, Pennsylvania was home to more than 25,000 restaurants, which employed 408,000 people. Of those 408,000 employed in February, 332,000 have been laid off or furloughed. That’s 81% of the entire workforce.
In April, restaurants that were still operating reported an 82%decline in sales, which equates to $1.8 billion in lost sales. Further, it is now estimated that as many as 20% of these restaurants may never reopen.
To help save this critical industry and these jobs, Stephens’ and Kaufer’s legislation would create the Small Restaurant Grant Program to assist restaurants impacted by COVID-19.
The program would dedicate $250 million to these vital businesses.
Eligible restaurants would include those with up to 10 locations in Pennsylvania that lost at least 50% of their monthly sales in April and May. They would be eligible for up to $25,000 per location to use as working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or the purchase of food and beverage materials for restaurant operations. Large restaurant chains would be ineligible for grants under the program.
“If we don’t act now, the small businesses will never reopen and we will permanently lose thousands of jobs,” Stephens said.
“That will have a devastating impact on families and communities throughout the Commonwealth,” Kaufer said. “We need to provide relief for these businesses now.”
Representative Todd Stephens
Representative Aaron Kaufer
120th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Stephens: David Foster, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kaufer: Abby Krueger, email@example.com