"Relieving the restaurant industry is part of the cost of containment."

Oset Babür
March 19, 2020
The Olmstead staff. Greg Baxtrom and Max Katzenberg of Olmsted and Maison Yaki are helming the The New York Hospitality Coalition which is working to postpone sales tax payments for hospitality businesses.
Noah Fecks

This story originally appeared on: foodandwine.com

With the restaurant industry fighting to survive in the wake of COVID-19, restaurateurs and chefs in major cities across the country are coming together around shared financial needs, lobbying their representatives, and most importantly, making noise. Below, find city-specific hospitality industry efforts and how you can support them.

Related: How to Support Those Affected by the Coronavirus in Your Community

Nationwide

The National Restaurant Association, along with the support of industry leaders like Tom Colicchio and Danny Meyer, addressed President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Mitch McConnell in a letter outlining several proposals—including allocating $35 billion for community development block grants for disaster relief assistance, $145 billion for a restaurant and foodservice industry recovery fund, and $145 billion equal to lost revenue loans. “Relieving the restaurant industry is part of the cost of containment," they wrote in the letter.

“It’s been amazing to see how quickly independent restaurants have organized and rallied together in such a short amount of time,” Colicchio said. “We are actively collaborating to make sure we can secure the future of restaurants and the jobs they create.”

Boston

In Boston, chefs like Tiffani Faison, Jody Adams, and Lydia Shire are calling for Governor Charlie Baker to extend emergency relief, establish a grant program to cover liabilities and sustain business, suspend payroll, meals, city and local taxes, guarantee commercial and residential rent abatements, guarantee loan abatements for workers, and more. They’re also pushing for immediate and expedited legislation providing compensation to restaurant workers, regardless of citizenship status.

How you can help:

  • Call Governor Baker’s office: 617-725-4005
  • Donate to the Cambridge and Somerville hospitality relief fund here.

Read more: Chefs Launch Petition Urging Government to Help Restaurants and Bars

California

The California Hospitality Coalition is calling on Governor Gavin Newsom for the abatement of rent and mortgage payments for all restaurants and landlords starting in April 2020, as well as for the payroll tax in Q1 and Q2.

How you can help:

  • If you’re a chef or restauranteur in California, message @cahospitalitycoalition on Instagram with your full name, title, and the name of your operation to sign a letter to Governor Newsom.
  • Brad Metzger Restaurant Solutions is crafting a letter to Governor Newsom. To add your signature, include your name, business name, and title in an email to lauren@restaurant-solutions.com.

Chicago

In Chicago, chefs like Stephanie Izard, Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan, and Jason Vincent organized to call on Governor Pritzker to eliminate the payroll tax and call for immediate rent and loan abatement for the hospitality industry.

How you can help:

  • Call Governor Pritzker’s office: 312-814-2121
  • Share this video from chef Rick Bayless

Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, local chefs, restaurateurs, and the Women’s Hospitality Initiative of Las Vegas are asking Governor Steve Sisolak to incentivize rent and loan abatement, as well as eliminate payroll taxes and extend emergency unemployment benefits to all impacted employees.

How you can help:

  • Sign the petition here.

Nashville

In Nashville, chefs have formed the Tennessee Action for Hospitality. The group is calling on Governor Lee to ensure an immediate elimination of the payroll tax, as well as emergency unemployment benefits for all hourly and salaried workers furloughed during the crisis.

How you can help:

  • Send a letter to Tennessee representatives, including Governor Bill Lee, Senator Marsha Blackburn, and Senator Lamar Alexander here.

New York City

In New York City, chef Greg Baxtrom and Max Katzenberg of Olmsted and Maison Yaki are helming the The New York Hospitality Coalition. The coalition’s main call to action is to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo to postpone sales tax payments for hospitality businesses impacted by the pandemic. “It’s putting operators in the position of having to choose between making payroll or paying a sales tax,” Katzenberg said. “Our cash flow faucet closed Sunday night. A vibrant hospitality industry is what makes New York, New York. This is not a bailout. It’s disaster relief. It can’t have any political connotation. And it has to happen now.”

ROAR (Restaurant Relief Opportunity for All Restaurants), supported by Momofuku Group, Starr Restaurants, NoHo Hospitality, Dig Food Group, Quality Branded, and others, is asking for a seat at the table as relief bills are being formulated. “We have a specific list of seven top priorities at ROAR,” said Luke Ostrom, partner at NoHo Hospitality. “What we need is a true mandated hospitality business shutdown that would trigger insurance coverage. If the Governor were to declare that the pandemic has caused physical loss and damage, that would waive a lot of the small print.”

How you can help: 

  • Post these call-to-action slides to Twitter and Instagram.
  • Sign the ROAR petition on Change.org here.
  • Call Governor Cuomo’s office: 518-474-8390.
  • Sign up and stay updated on the New York Hospitality Coalition's next steps here.

North Carolina

In Raleigh, chef Ashley Christensen has set up the Triangle Restaurant Workers Relief Fund. The fund was established to financially support cooks, servers, bartenders, dishwashers and other hospitality industry workers in the Triangle impacted by the pandemic.

How you can help:

  • Donate to the relief fund here.
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