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Connecticut Restaurant Association urges Congress to replenish COVID-19 relief funding for restaurants

The association said there are more than 2,000 Connecticut applicants waiting for relief funding from the federal government.

SIMSBURY, Conn. — The Connecticut Restaurant Association and their partners across the nation are urging congressional leaders to replenish the Restaurant Revitilization Fund to help restaurants impacted by COVID-19.

The association said there are more than 2,000 Connecticut applicants waiting for relief funding from the federal government.

The National Restaurant Association, along with Connecticut’s group and partners, sent a letter urging congressional leaders to replenish the fund which provides financial relief for restaurants, bars and other businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“These are the local small restaurants and caterers and private event venues,” Executive Director Scott Dolch said. “I worry with the Delta variant and everything else that’s going on, what impact—lasting impact this could have.”

Restaurant owners are facing numerous challenge as they navigate the ever-changing landscape.

“It’s been 18 months of hardship,” Dolch said. “Our industry is dealing with labor shortage, having to increase labor costs to keep people, food costs are over 35 percent more than they were pre-pandemic levels. The last thing they want to do to make money is having to increase prices on their menu.”

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve tried to make plans for the restaurants moving forward and we’ve hit stalls all the way along. We’ve had to pivot all the way along,” Chef and Restaurant Owner Tyler Anderson said. Anderson owns Millwright’s Restaurant in Simsbury. “Reservations are down like 15 percent on average across the country. People are just scared to dine out right now—some are, so they’re going to more outdoor dining and to go.”

Anderson has adapted by expanding the outdoor dining for his fine-dining restaurant and creating an outdoor taco truck and BBQ experience, called Ta-Que.

As for other restaurants, Dolch is hoping the fund will be replenished.

“I’m hopeful that Congress understands this is something they stepped up and did as part of the American Rescue Plan but they need to finish the job. They need to get every single business that was eligible across the finished line,” Dolch said.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association said the pending applications would account for nearly $490 million in stabilization funding if the fund is replenished.

   

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