Restaurants apply for RRF, nearly half unable to secure relief


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thousands of restaurants that missed out on federal COVID relief are struggling to recover as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund quickly ran out of its $28.6 billion fund.

The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association held a meeting Wednesday to discuss what restaurants can expect in the coming weeks as optimism in the restaurant industry dwindles as winter nears.

According to officials, outdoor dining accounts for 20% of the daily sales for many restaurants. However, many operators are concerned the weather could impact those sales as there will be little demand for outdoor dining.

Jason Brandy, President and CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association said “all 4,930 eligible Restaurant Revitalization Fund applicants followed the regulations implemented by our state government over the course of the past 20 months.” Despite this, financial relief has only been secured by 2,337 restaurant businesses, leaving nearly 2,600 businesses without relief that will directly assist in their long-term survival. 

“We must not forget that time and time again during both 2020 and 2021, local restaurants in Oregon were forced to close their doors in the interest of public health,” said Brandt. “Our federal government and Oregon’s federal elected leaders must correct this wrong.” 

In July, KOIN 6 News spoke to restaurant owners hoping that a bill to replenish the fund would get passed by Congress but now, months later, that still hasn’t happened.

Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced the bill to get more funding and says he’s still working to get help for Oregon restaurants.

 “It feels like no matter what we do, we’re just stuck in the sand. If you want places to go eat, we need this help, we really need this help.” Gabriel Pascuzzi, chef and owner of Mama Bird said.

Pascuzzi applied for the RRF but is among nearly 2,600 restaurants in Oregon who missed out. He says this past year has been a real struggle and worries without help many restaurants won’t survive the winter.

According to Pascuzzi, Mama Bird isn’t seeing as many customers as they did before, causing sales to decline at a time when costs are up because of supply chain issues. Additionally, the restaurant industry is short 23,000 workers.

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