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Business Texas restaurateurs cook up support for national legislation benefitting industry

Texas restaurateurs cook up support for national legislation benefitting industry

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Several prominent Texas restaurateurs and Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) members on Thursday asked Texas senators to support the RESTAURANTS Act.

 On the press call, Texas restaurateurs Kevin Fink, Alba Huerta, Tim Love, and Chris Shepherd asked their representatives to support the legislation and outlined its potential impacts on the state and national economies.

Love, speaking during a Zoom conference with The Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth on Thursday, noted that he had worked to get the first round of Payroll Protection Program.loans extended.

“That was an amazing experience and it actually worked, so it made it even more amazing because [the PPP loan program] did get extended. So that was really good for the restaurants around the country,” said Love, chef and owner at Fort Worth area restaurants Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse, Queenie’s Steakhouse, Gemelle, Atico, Love Shack, and White Elephant Saloon.

The RESTAURANTS Act would establish a $120 billion Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund geared toward assisting small restaurants and bars impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, the legislation was introduced on a bipartisan basis in both the Senate by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and in the House by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3). The legislation already boasts 80 cosponsors in the House and 5 cosponsors in the Senate, including Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). 

“An investment in independent restaurants and bars is a fifteen billion dollar investment in Texas” Love said. “What we’re asking for is unprecedented, but so is the support we’ve seen around getting this bill passed. Everybody knows this bill is needed. It’s why companies like Coca-Cola, Sysco, and Delta wrote about their support last week, with over 215 suppliers sending a letter to Congress the week before. Leaders in Congress like Reps. Kevin Brady, Kay Granger, and Michael McCaul need to support the RESTAURANTS Act and get our economy back in business.”

According to a recent economic report from Compass Lexecon, the fund would return up to $271 billion in economic benefits, as well as reducing nationwide unemployment by 2.4%. The legislation would be particularly impactful in Texas, where the leisure and hospitality industry has contributed to nearly a third of all jobs lost since March. 

According to the IRC, the RESTAURANTS Act would:

  • Generate $15.3 billion in economic benefits for Texas.
  • Protect 357,000 Texan jobs.
  • Protect Texas’ tourism industry, which stands to benefit $8.5 billion from the RESTAURANTS Act, the 2nd largest gain in the nation.
  • Help ensure Texas’ 236,800 small farms stay in business, along with providing $1.5 billion in economic benefits directly to suppliers like bakers, fishermen, butchers, and others.
  • Save Texas $2.7 billion in state unemployment benefits and insurance taxes.

“Anybody who knows a bartender knows we truly earn every cent we make” said Alba Huerta, bartender and owner at Julep Houston in Houston. “But if we can’t pour a single drink, there’s no amount of hard work that can keep us open. I don’t think I’ve ever seen our industry so afraid of the future. We’re asking for our representatives to support the RESTAURANTS Act so we can continue putting millions of Americans to work, and continue being the places of celebration and community that this country will need on the other side of this crisis.”

Last week, several major U.S. corporations announced their support for the RESTAURANTS Act. The companies – American Express, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt Hotels, Resy, Sysco, and US Foods – warned Congress that, without restaurants, “every one of our businesses would be impacted and the economic framework of cities and towns cross all parts of the United States would be dramatically altered for the worse.” They concluded that “Congress must pass The RESTAURANTS Act of 2020 in the coming weeks.”

Last week, over 215 small businesses that supply restaurants also called for the passage of the RESTAURANTS Act. According to a recent economic report from Compass Lexecon, restaurants’ and bars’ suppliers employ over 5 million workers across the country. 

Sysco, and Delta wrote about their support last week, with over 215 suppliers sending a letter to Congress the week before.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners across the country who have built a grassroots movement to secure vital protections for the nation’s 500,000 independent restaurants and the more than 11 million restaurant workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

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