“We were a group of companies doing the same thing, but we couldn’t find a unified voice,” Ms. Cohen said ahead of the pandemic. “The reality is that the way to change is through politics.”
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is designed to compensate restaurant and bar owners for revenue lost during the shutdown, and the money is reserved for businesses with 20 locations or fewer. The Small Business Administration provides grants of up to US $ 5 million for individual restaurants and up to US $ 10 million for restaurant groups.
Coalition members are quick to point out provisions designed to benefit marginalized communities. During the first 21 days that grants are granted, the Small Business Administration will prioritize applications from companies that include women, minorities, and veterans. Approximately $ 5 billion is earmarked for businesses, including food trucks, food stalls, and catering companies, whose gross revenues in 2019 were less than $ 500,000.
John Schumacher owns Harold’s Cabin, a neighborhood eatery in Charleston, SC that has been closed since last spring. He said the coalition was out from the start to help restaurants that lack the resources of the group’s members.
“Many of them don’t know what the IRC is or what this legislation is,” said Schumacher. “These are the ones we fight for the most.”
It was an uphill battle for most of the year. Particularly disheartening was the coalition’s failure to include aid to restaurants in the coronavirus aid package signed by President Donald Trump in December. A popular video posted on social media earlier this month by a California restaurateur outraged by the unequal enforcement of Covid restrictions in Los Angeles County became a symbol of coalition members’ frustration.
“We definitely all had our anger moment,” said Ms. Goin.
Mr Kass, the former adviser to the president, said members of the coalition had restored morale by reminding each other of the delivery men, farmers and other food professionals who were counting on them. “Washington does not spend industry-specific resources,” he said. “Everyone else is really upset.”