Local restaurant owners urge Congress to pass bill to save industry


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Local restaurant owners are looking for a lifeline from Congress to stay afloat. A bi-partisan bill might give them the help they need.

The Restaurants Act is a $120 billion relief bill for the industry that business owner Patrick Noonan said is needed.

“I know airlines and cruise ships and everyone else is looking for money, but restaurants make the world go round,” Noonan said.

The El Loco restaurant owner had to close the neighboring Debbie’s Kitchen due to the pandemic.

“There was just no amount of money that could have saved us,” Noonan said.

The bill is only for independent businesses. Noonan and the Director of the New York Restaurant Association, Dominick Purnomo, said saving the industry doesn’t only help restaurants.

“We’re buying paper and consumables to print our menus on and all these other things. So it’s how much money goes back out into the economy that funnels through a restaurant is pretty much more than any other industry,” Purnomo said.

Female and minority businesses would be first to apply for the money. Purnomo is urging people to call their congressional representatives to push for the passage of the bill.

“You’re talking about as many as 85 percent of independent restaurants across the United States that could close,” Purnomo said.

The Capital Region’s already seeing business owners slowly call it quits. And with an industry that claims 10 percent of the nation’s workforce, that impact could be wide-spread.

“Most restaurants that I’ve talked to locally expect to do a quarter of what they did last year,” Purnomo said.

As restaurant owners hope for the passage of the bill, Noonan said the biggest litmus test for owners is the next few months.

“I would say about 50 percent of people are very close to or have the fear of closing on their minds within the next six months. If we can make it through the winter, we can sustain long term, but most places aren’t going to make it through the winter without some type of additional help,” Noonan said.

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