New Bill Is Giving Struggling Restaurants Hope For The Future

A financial lifeline could be on its way for restaurants struggling to recoup losses sustained as a result of COVID-19 and its impact on the foodservice industry. On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide $42 billion in federal aid for foodservice businesses that had previously applied for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which had administered $28.6 billion in grants to qualified applicants before seemingly coming to an end, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

The new bill, dubbed The Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 (H.R.3807), would also support other struggling businesses with less than 200 employees with $13 billion in aid — part of which would also be available for new restaurant applicants (via Restaurant Dive). The legislation now must be passed by the U.S. Senate to be enacted. If passed, RRF grants would be administered first to the 177,000 previously approved applicants who have not received funding.

Regarding H.R.3807, House Representative Earl Blumenauer, a co-author of the bill, told Nation's Restaurant News that the legislation was long overdue for restaurants and he sees helping this industry as key to recovery from the pandemic. "The independent restaurant is the foundation of a livable community," Blumenauer said to the publication. "We need to have these institutions to provide a foundation for our neighborhoods."

There is another bill that could help struggling restaurants

Meanwhile, there is a similar bill, titled Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (S.4008), that was introduced to the U.S. Senate docket on Tuesday. The legislation would replenish the RRF with a grant of $40 billion, which would also support past applications that were tabled once funds dried up. It includes a provision of $8 billion for other hard-hit businesses, per Restaurant Business.

The Senate bill involves the reallocation of $5 billion left over from the Paycheck Protection Plan — a initiative that granted loan-based aid for businesses in 2020 and 2021 — and measures to prevent the RRF from running out of money before all qualified restaurants have received at least partial funding.

The legislation has yet to be approved but it's still a welcome sign of progress for the foodservice industry, which has been waiting with bated breath for more federal aid. Almost 50% of restaurant operators who did not receive RRF grants reported that staying in business without financial support was unlikely in a survey published January 2022 by the National Restaurant Association.