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restaurant-carryout-coronavirus.png NICHOLAS KAMM/Contributor/AFP/Getty Images
This Washington, D.C., restaurant, like many others, offers carryout only.

Chefs, restaurateurs petition lawmakers to ‘save America’s restaurants’ petition and Twitter push seeks signatures to support more relief

Prominent chefs and restaurateurs around the country — from Alice Waters to Hugh Acheson — have banded together to back a petition urging political leaders at all levels to save America’s restaurants.

In a letter addressed to “governors,  mayors and legislators,” the petition outlines business relief efforts needed by the industry immediately, including emergency employment benefit for workers that have been laid off, waiving payroll taxes, rent and loan abatement and the waiver or deferment of other obligations during the crisis.

The push comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington debate a proposed $1 trillion stimulus package that could include some $300 billion to help small businesses avoid mass layoffs, though details remain in flux. The Trump Administration also proposed sending emergency cash to all Americans with the hope of boosting spending — which would likely benefit restaurants.

The National Restaurant Association is also lobbying for recovery for the industry, projecting restaurants will take an economic hit of at least $225 billion from the pandemic and up to 7 million jobs will be lost.

The petition has a goal of reaching 75,000 signatures. As of midday Wednesday, 61,507 had signed on.

Arguing the restaurant industry is “on the brink of extinction,” the petition implores legislators to consider the following:

  • Provide emergency employment benefits to all hourly and salaried workers who have been laid off, or suffered or lost their pay for the length of the crisis.
  • Waive payroll tax.
  • Endorse rent and loan abatement for workers
  • Work with state liquor authorities to enable restaurants offering takeout and delivery to also sell/deliver beer, wine and cocktails by the bottle.
  • Waive zoning or permit restrictions to allow restaurants to temporarily use their spaces as boutique food-and-beverage markets, offering an alternative to overcrowded supermarkets and, by extension, continuing to pay their staff and support their farms and purveyors.

The letter is signed by nearly 50 chefs and restaurateurs, in what is a star-studded lineup that cross all segments, from fine dining to fast casual. Among them are Scott Conant, Marc Forgione, Will Guidara, Stephanie Izard, David Kinch, Patrick O’Connell, Nancy Silverton, Curtis Stone, Norman Van Aken and Geoffrey Zakarian.

In an effort promoted by David Chang of Momofuku Grop on Twitter, another movement under the hashtag #toosmalltofail is urging Americans to contact their representatives in Congress to ask for more support for restaurants in the federal stimulus package.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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