Standing at Thirsty Turtle Bar & Grill in the Finger Lakes Region, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer formally announced that New York restaurants are now eligible for their own, DIRECT, federal pandemic relief, thanks to a provision he championed in the American Rescue Plan which he led to passage in the Senate. With New York state boosting Ontario County restaurant capacity to 75% less than a month ago, Schumer said more help is on the way for the Finger Lakes economy BUT that local restaurants, wineries, and breweries need to apply, and that the SBA will need to be at the ready to help locals. Schumer said he is pushing the Small Business Administration to stand up the new program ASAP and that he wants New York eateries first in line for these funds, given New York has been so hard hit by the pandemic.
Ted Rund Jr., owner of Thirsty Turtle Bar & Grill said, “Over this past year we’ve endured falling revenues, empty dining rooms, and have had to furlough some employees ... Having access to Senator Schumer’s Restaurant Act is a welcome lifeline to bridge us through.”
“Even with 75% capacity rules that started on March 19th, Finger Lakes restaurants, wineries, breweries, and their employees that make the Finger Lakes a world-class food and beverage destination and drive its regional economy still need immediate federal relief to weather COVID because too many of the places we know and love could close without the help, leaving a giant hole in our local economy,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why I fought so hard to make sure this relief bill included a vital ingredient – a restaurants relief fund based on the RESTAURANTS Act– to get our restaurants ‘cooking’ again. Getting federal dollars into the hands of struggling small businesses, like restaurants, wineries, and breweries in the Finger Lakes, not only makes sense, but it’s the recipe needed to keep small businesses like the Thirsty Turtle Bar & Grill going.”
The new restaurant relief fund, modeled on the widely supported, bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act, will provide a down-payment of $28.6 billion in flexible grants through the Small Business Administration (SBA) as a lifeline for New York’s restaurant industry, one of the hardest hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Food service or drinking establishments, including caterers, brewpubs, taprooms, and tasting rooms, that are not part of an affiliated group with more than 20 locations, will be eligible. To provide comprehensive support to local restaurants, grants from the fund could be used alongside first and second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit.
Across the Finger Lakes over 60 restaurants have now closed due to the local industry’s struggles. Schumer said that with the Finger Lakes poised to get a slice of the $28.6 billion dollar federal pot, local restaurants, wineries, and breweries we know and love in Ontario County and across the region can stay open for business, recover, and create and opportunities for workers to return to old or new restaurant jobs can emerge. Schumer also said the countless jobs Finger Lakes food establishments provide will be less uncertain now that this direct relief is on the way. The restaurant, brewery, and winery owners talked about their own pandemic struggles and the fight to keep the doors open along with their hope for the future with this relief package.