WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Bob Menendez announced last week that he has cosponsored the Restaurants Act, legislation that would provide $120 billion in federal relief for local food service, drinking establishments, and caterers that have suffered financial losses due to COVID-19.  

Funding through the grant program will be calculated based on revenue losses between 2019 and 2020 and can be used to cover payroll up to each worker’s annual salary of $100,000, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies, inventory, debt obligations to suppliers and other eligible expenses.

“The social distancing and stay-at-home orders necessary to contain the spread of the virus helped flatten the curve and prevent our health system from being overrun, but the economic fallout has caused enormous pain all around,” Menendez said. “Many local restaurants, bars and catering halls have been forced to close. Workers have been laid off or furloughed.  Even those establishments that were able to quickly shift to delivery, take-out or outdoor dining, are still in the red.”

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“New Jersey’s normally bustling restaurant and hospitality industry helps drive the economy in our local communities,” the senior statesman said. “The Restaurants Act will help give them the financial relief many need to stay open, keep people employed and drive our economic recovery.”

To ensure the funding is directed to smaller, independently owned establishments, publicly traded companies or chains with 20 or more locations are excluded from the grant program. 

Even with many establishments reopening, employment in the industry nationwide is down 3.1 million since February. In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27% of all job losses that month. 

"We appreciate Senator Menendez’s support of both the Restaurant Act legislation and the restaurant industry,” said Marilou Halvorsen, president of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association (NJRHA).  “This legislation is critical in helping small businesses across New Jersey and the country."

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