Leading chefs launch petition to save America's restaurants
"Just as many individuals live from paycheck to paycheck, so too do restaurants and bars. We are on the brink of extinction.”
Restaurants and bars have been shuttered across the country in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. We’re yet to see just how exactly the pandemic is going to affect America’s restaurant industry, but some are saying it will take nothing short of a government bail-out to save it.
A group of chefs and restaurateurs have come together to launch a petition, demanding that governors, mayors and legislators take action.
The Change.org petition is called Save America’s Restaurants. In it, the chefs write: “Just as many individuals live from paycheck to paycheck, so too do restaurants and bars. There’s no nest egg. No reserve fund. No glass to break in case of emergency. We cannot work from home, and even if we temporarily convert to delivery and carry-out, we lose most of our revenue and the tips our employees depend upon to survive. Without significant help, many if not most of us will vanish, and our communities will be deprived of their gathering places, generosity, and memories old and yet to come. Dark spaces with hand-scrawled signs in the window will be grim souvenirs of the light and laughter that once emanated from them.”
The petition signers include Will Guidara, Stephanie Izard, Patrick O’Connell, Nancy Silverton, Alice Waters, Preeti Mistry, and other high-profile chefs and restaurateurs from across the US.
They write: “As chefs, bartenders, and restaurant and bar owners, we are writing to tell you that without swift action and commitment from our local and state governments, many of the restaurants that closed voluntarily—or by mandate—at this moment of crisis will not come back. That sounds like an exaggeration. It is not. We are on the brink of extinction.”
The petition was launched on Tuesday March 16, and as of this publication, has gained just over 81,000 signatures.
They ask: “We implore you to engage with local industry leaders and restaurant associations immediately to come to a swift plan for how you can meaningfully give your local restaurants the best chance for survival.”
The chefs acknowledge that the actions required in each city will vary. But they ask officials to consider:
--"Providing emergency employment benefits to all hourly and salaried workers who have been laid off or suffered or lost their pay for the length of this crisis
--Waiving payroll tax
--Endorsing rent and loan abatement for workers
--Working with state liquor authorities to enable restaurants offering take out and delivery to also sell/deliver beer, wine and cocktails by the bottle
--Waving zoning or permit restrictions to allow restaurants to temporarily use their spaces as boutique food and beverage markets, offering an alternative to overcrowded supermarkets and by extension continuing to pay their staff and support their farms and purveyors."