This morning the Association issued the press release below calling on the federal and state governments to enact a Restaurant Survival Kit to help our members survive through this crisis:

 

EMPIRE STATE RESTAURANT & TAVERN ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT TO PURSUE A “RESTAURANT SURVIVAL KIT”

ALBANY – The Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association is calling for actions from both the state and federal governments to help restaurants and taverns survive indoor dining closures and restrictions, collectively called the “Restaurant Survival kit.” The Survival Kit includes direct economic relief, business flexibility, and regulatory relief measures. The hospitality industry has been one of the most negatively affected sectors of the economy during the pandemic, and now that increased restrictions are going into place many of these businesses will not make it without action from all of our elected leaders.

“The Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association is deeply concerned about the decision to close indoor dining in New York City and the decision, sooner or later, to reduce indoor dining to 25% or less in the rest of the state,” said Scott Wexler, Executive Director, Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association. “Our members have been struggling for nine months waiting for the economic relief needed to protect them against total devastation. The PPP loans offered by the federal government at the start of the pandemic are a poor fit for this industry and the new PPP provisions included in the only proposal with any chance of passing Congress in the short term are no better.”

The current state of the public health crisis may necessitate continuing, and perhaps increasing, restrictions upon restaurants and taverns, but such actions will exacerbate the economic crisis the pandemic has caused for the industry. Government at all levels must do everything possible to help get restaurants through to the other side of the pandemic.

The Restaurant Survival Kit is a menu of direct economic relief, business flexibility, and regulatory relief measures:

Direct Economic Relief

  • Federal RESTAURANTS Act
  • State Grants for Restaurants
  • No/Low Interest Loans for Restaurants
  • Waive Penalties & Interest on Sales Tax Payments
  • Waive Penalties & Interest on Property Tax Payments

Business Flexibility

  • Expand Outdoor Dining
  • Remove State Curfew on Operations
  • Suspend Food Requirement for On & Off Premises Consumption
  • Modify Outdoor Dining Rules to Permit Single-Group-Occupied Enclosed Dining Spaces Located Outdoors

Regulatory Relief

  • Eliminate/Reduce Penalties for Non-Egregious EO Violators after Six Months without Violation
  • Don’t Treat Non-Egregious EO Violations as “Adverse History”
  • Don’t Charge Non-Egregious EO Violators with “Failure to Supervise”
  • Suspend Requirement Under SLA Rule 64 Authorizing Wholesalers to Charge Fees for Small Orders
  • Suspend ABC Law Provisions Limiting Credit Wholesalers May Extend to On Premises Licensees

Passage of the RESTAURANTS Act by the U.S. Senate, or its inclusion in the COVID relief bill, is the most urgent and necessary relief. This bi-partisan bill, which has passed the House and has been included in several COVID reliefs bills advanced by the House, would replace the income small, independent restaurant and tavern owners have lost due to the pandemic. It offers a hand-up to America’s restaurant and tavern owners – some who are close to losing everything. Congress must include the provisions of the RESTAURANTS Act, or at least a down payment on it, in a COVID relief bill they pass before heading home for the holidays. Leaving Washington without ensuring there’s significant federal economic relief for restaurants will make it nearly impossible for the restaurant industry to bear the brunt of this economic crisis much longer.

“Every single member of New York’s congressional delegation should be calling their leadership daily to make sure the RESTAURANTS Act is included in any COVID relief package,” said Mr. Wexler. “They should not return home to their districts unless they address this problem.”

While the State of New York does not have the ability to offer the type of economic relief the federal government can, that should not stop the State from using every available tool to sustain this vital industry. None of these proposals will save the industry on its own, but pursuing a variety of options that will be helpful to different operators based upon their unique circumstances is something the State should be doing. The State may feel hard-pressed to provide economic relief to businesses when it faces a staggering deficit, but the state government is better positioned to absorb the economic pain than thousands of small businesses.

“There’s no rationale for the State to not advancing proposals without a fiscal impact – unless you think it’s okay to stand by and watch businesses fail,” said Mr. Wexler. “This is a time to stand up and be counted. We’re taking note of who will stand with us and who will turn their backs on New York’s independent restaurants and bars. Our members are desperate. It really is a matter of survival.”