National Restaurant Association Board Chair, New Orleans independent restaurant operator Melvin Rodrigue, last week testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, on the stark landscape for the industry and he urged Congress to take action to help restaurants and their employees before it adjourns until November.
“Restaurant owners are making business decisions for October based on the actions you take today. I implore you—please take action before leaving town for the elections,” he testified. “If Congress adjourns without extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or providing other enhanced relief, more restaurants will close, more employees will lose their jobs and the pandemic economic crisis will deepen.”
He highlighted that restaurants have suffered more losses in dollars and jobs than any other industry. “What restaurants and their employees need is targeted help for the nation’s second-largest private sector employer,” he added.
Rodrigue reiterated the Association’s call for Congress to consider short-term assistance like the authorization of a second round of the PPP, with greater flexibility for both operating expenses and payroll outlays. Additionally, he encouraged the Subcommittee to consider long-term tools from the Association’s Blueprint for Restaurant Revival, including:
- Passing the Senate version of the RESTAURANTS Act, which takes a balanced approach to support independent and locally owned franchise restaurants
- Ensuring that business expenses paid from PPP proceeds are tax deductible
- Enacting a refundable tax credit to cover investments in equipment and safety programs, and to set up social distancing in facilities amid a crippling economic climate
- Enhancing the Employee Retention Tax Credit
“Restaurants and our employees have a personal connection with customers. In some towns, it’s a small chain; in some towns, it’s a beloved local restaurant. But every one of you, and every American, has a place that is their favorite. Regardless of the name on the door, restaurants are community cornerstones that provide a ladder of opportunity for employees,” Rodrigue said.