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Two Thirds of Small Restaurants Face Permanent Closure

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Milk Street Cafe storefront showing signature painting and large atrium.

When the world realized the true severity of the Coronavirus back in March of 2020, restaurant workers around the country suddenly found themselves without jobs. Millions of people had to turn to unemployment checks as they waited with uncertainty for the world to open back up again. In just the first six months of the Pandemic, nearly one in every six restaurants were forced to make the decision to shut down their doors for good. As more people are getting vaccinated and slowly returning to "normal" life, independent restaurants continue to remain uncertain about the future. They need your help.

200,000 Business Were Left With Nothing

Congress set forth the Restaurant Revitalization Fund during the height of the Pandemic in March 2021 as a way to keep small restaurants afloat. Unfortunately, they gravely underestimated the amount of money it would require to do so. Restaurant owners asked for $120 billion from government, but were only given $28.6 billion. It was depleted after only 100,000 restaurants were given help. That left nearly 200,000 qualified restaurants who are equally as deserving of assistance without any form of the financial aid they so desperately needed to survive the Pandemic. That means that more than 2.2 million jobs are at risk. Milk Street Cafe is one of thousands of restaurants who did not receive financial assistance from the government. For these 200,000 restaurants, the clock is ticking as businesses are running out of the money they need to operate.

Milk Street Cafe's Future Remains Uncertain

Milk Street Cafe is facing the same uncertain future. In early 2020, business at Milk Street Cafe was at a record high and our future was promising. Then everything came to a screeching halt on March 12th. Milk Street was one of hundreds of thousands of businesses who shut their doors in March and had no idea when they'd open again. Nearly a year and a half later, we've reopened our doors just in time to celebrate our 40th Anniversary. Now the question is if we will make it to our 41st.

Milk Street Cafe and so many other restaurants across the country are situated in busy financial districts where the majority of customers are employees from the surrounding offices. Though more people are fully vaccinated, many companies are still not returning to their offices as expected. 80% of Milk Street Cafe's business comes from corporate catering. But with people continuing to work from home, business has been much slower than anticipated after our reopening. Milk Street and countless of other restaurants rely on business from office employees, and while remote work seems to be here to stay, they are struggling to find a way to survive.

This is the harsh reality of the situation. With winter approaching, restaurants will have to end their outdoor seating and adapt to smaller spaces, meaning less business in the colder months. Getting vaccinated and continuing safety precautions will help to return life to normal, but restaurants need you to do more than just get the vaccine.

2.2 Million Jobs Are at Stake — They Need Your Help

Countless independently owned restaurants need your help to get the new RRF Package passed in Congress, especially those in states with little to no Congressional support. Click this link to send a message to your local Congress person, or call them at 202-224-3121. Or, if you or anyone you know lives in any of these states, send a state-specific letter here:

The Independent Restaurant Coalition has more ways to take action here. The jobs of 2.2 million Americans are at stake. Please take five minutes to share and contact your Congress person.


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