Restaurants hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic nationwide ask for help


NATIONAL (CBS NEWSPATH) – With the coronavirus surging across the country, cities and states have imposed new restrictions on businesses and restaurants to help slow the spread. But many restaurant owners fear they will not survive.

Coronavirus restrictions forced Tony Stafford’s Ford’s Fish Shack restaurants in Virginia to just takeout back in March, and he had to furlough more than 100 employees. With the coronavirus still raging nine months later Stafford says, “Every day you fight that mental battle with yourself: Am I doing the right thing? Am I going to beat this?”

Tony received a PPP loan and brought back most of his employees, but he’s still not allowed to operate at full capacity. “Our backs are against the wall, but we’re going to fight every day to keep these restaurants warm because, you know, I’ve got great employees and I don’t want to lose a single one ‘em to a layoff or to a forced closure,” he says.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition says half a million independent restaurants and 11 million jobs could be lost because of the pandemic. It’s now pushing Congress to pass the RESTAURANTS Act, which is a $120 billion fund geared toward assisting small restaurants and bars.

Patti Rockenwagner’s Dear John’s restaurant in Los Angeles sits empty, during what she says is the most lucrative season for restaurants, because indoor and outdoor dining isn’t allowed. She’s asking patrons to help. “There’s a letter to sign that asks Congress to please act on this bill, because for everyday that this relief is not provided, it’s another restaurant that’s closing, a bar that’s closing, jobs that are going away forever, and dreams that are dashed,” she says.

Stafford is asking for help too. He’s encouraging people to continue to support restaurants by buying gift cards or stopping by for dine-in or takeout.

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