Newark Consumer Law Firm
Chef Tom Colicchio

Coronavirus Government Relief Package Doesn’t Work for Restaurants

Chefs and restaurant owners believe the coronavirus government relief package doesn’t work for restaurants. Restaurants have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Celebrity chef and food advocate Tom Colicchio, owner of the restaurant and hospitality group Crafted Hospitality, was one of many restaurateurs who made the difficult decision to close his kitchens and lay off over 400 employees due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Now, he’s helping to lead the charge to provide desperately needed aid through the Independent Restaurant Coalition to food service workers, small business owners, and their communities.

“We started it about three or four weeks ago when we realized the enormity of the problem that we were facing and we knew there was a stimulus package that was going to help small businesses,” Colicchio said on ABC News’ “Pandemic: What You Need to Know.”

“We found groups in Chicago that we're working on the same issue. We found groups throughout the South and we put all these coalitions together and very quickly we hired a lobbying team, a [communications] team, and we are having direct conversations with members of Congress to let them know the issues that we have in the restaurant industry,” Colicchio said. “And also — to let [Congress] know that the — CARES Act — doesn’t really work for the restaurant industry right now.”

He said he’s also trying to get the message to Congress that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act “doesn’t really work for the restaurant industry right now.”

The CARES Act provides the single largest economic relief package in U.S. history and will include direct payments for qualifying individuals as well as loans and loan forgiveness for small businesses.

I couldn’t agree more with Chef Colicchio. Loans through the SBA are designed to keep people on the pay-roll temporarily but if your restaurant is closed, why not just let the employee file for unemployment. The SBA loans are promised to be forgiven but only if at least 80% of the funds are used to pay employees. What about rent, insurance, and so many other monthly expenses over and above wages?

Many restaurants are closed now and may never re-open. Others may re-open but look very different from how they looked in January. The restaurant business model is in need of a big change and this might just be the time to make that change.

For more information and links to other articles – go to our Restaurant COVID Relief page