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Politics & Government

Sen. Schumer Pushes For Dedicated Restaurant Fund In Pandemic Relief Package

Scott Willis

Senator Chuck Schumer made the Syracuse area his first visit to Upstate New York as majority leader today, and he’s trying to use that clout to bring relief to the battered restaurant industry.  He stopped by the Brasserie Bar and Bistro in Camillus, where he unveiled plans to include a $25 billion dedicated fund for the Restaurants Act in the massive $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. 

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Entry of Brasserie Bar and Bistro.

“So many people work in restaurants. Restaurants employ other people, the cleaning services and food suppliers, and everybody else. So, it would set our economy back in a very significant way, making it very hard to get out of the recession that we’re in.”

Schumer says Onondaga County’s restaurants have seen a 27 percent drop in revenue during the pandemic compared to the spring, summer, and fall of 2019.  Some temporarily closed, while at least 22 others will never reopen.   A survey by the New York State Restaurant Association found more than half say they won’t survive the next six months without federal relief.  Schumer says that would weigh heavily on local economies.

“As majority leader, I’m able to put bills on the floor and decide the order of bills. The very first thing I put on the floor is a bipartisan bill, this restaurants act. And you say, 'what if $25 billion isn’t enough?'; this is a down payment, and we can get more money.”

Schumer says individually owned restaurants can seek up to a $5 million grant; groups of 20 or less can apply for up to $10 million.  Large restaurant chains are not eligible.  The money can be used to cover payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, food, operational expenses, and other eligible costs between February of last year through the end of this year. 

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Bar of Brasserie Bar and Bistro.