Independent Restaurant Coalition calls for Congress to refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The dining and service industry has faced a vast amount of challenges since the beginning of the pandemic. The IRC is calling on Congress to help save restaurants.

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The unpredictability of  the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the restaurant industry into unstable territory with challenges coming from labor shortages to financial sustainability and overall survival.  

The Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) is working to combat the hardships by calling on Congress to refill the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), a federal grant created in 2020 to help restaurants and other food businesses keep their doors open and encouraging all to get involved with their save restaurants campaign. 

“We’ve been advocating for the same thing since March 18, 2021, and that is federal assistance for all the restaurants and bars impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic [and] we continue to fight and won’t give up on this fight.” —Erika Polmar, Independent Restaurant Coalition

Two years into the pandemic, Erika Polmar, executive director and founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), says that the situation is extremely dire. In a conversation with CultureShift, Polmar states that in Michigan there are “over 16,000 restaurants and bars who are really struggling right now. Many of them have been waiting for federal assistance [from the] Restaurant Revitalization Fund and haven’t received any assistance since March of 2020.” 

Nya Marshall, an IRC board member and owner of Ivy Kitchen & Cocktails located on Jefferson Avenue has experienced the roller coaster the pandemic has taken many business owners on. In 2019, her American Fusion restaurant opened its doors and was just getting settled into their eastside digs and the customer experience, then COVID-19 came and forced a global shutdown. As a new business, adjustments to the societal shift weren’t immediate. And since late 2020, due to factors ranging from labor shortage to city floods, Ivy Kitchen & Cocktails has reopened and closed nearly eight times. 

“We have not been able to fully recover,” Marshall says. “As an owner, you have the duty to your staff, your guests, yourself and your family [and] when you’re opening and closing, you’re losing money essentially and your staff is losing money as well. It’s a major undertaking that I would not recommend for anyone.” 

This has been the journey and struggle throughout the current  global health crisis. 

“We’ve been advocating for the same thing since March 18, 2021, and that is federal assistance for all the restaurants and bars impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic [and] we continue to fight and won’t give up on this fight,” says Polmar. 


Listen: Erika Polmar and Nya Marshall on why the fight to revitalize restaurants won’t stop.

 

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