PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Independent Restaurant Coalition is calling for a National Day of Action, hoping people will contact their representatives in support of additional federal aid as restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic.

IRC’s National Day of Action has taken off on social media with some big names spreading the message including NFL star Ndamukong Suh who tweeted his support on Tuesday.

IRC said this has many owners using their own funds and say their financial struggles impact more than just the restaurants themselves.

“Especially in Oregon, where we have such a vibrant agricultural community, those restaurants support our 32,000 small farms. When you lose restaurants, you’re not only losing Oregon’s second largest employer, you’re impacting wineries, distillers, brewers. All the things we like to tout about Oregon are in danger,” IRC Executive Director Erika Polmar said.

Kurt Huffman who runs Chefstable, and partners with restaurants around the city including La Moule, says at the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants were operating with significant losses.

It’s no secret local restaurants drive Portland’s economy.

“Over 50% of people who came to Portland cited food as the reason for their visit,” Huffman said.

Which is why when the pandemic hit the industry it also impacted Portland. 

Huffman noted “it was catastrophic.”

Now, the omicron COVID variant has impacted sales for many restaurants, too. It’s for that reason the IRC is asking people on Tuesday to call their representatives and ask them to provide more federal aid to restaurants.

The IRC says the need for that aid is critical with 42% of restaurants who didn’t receive relief are in danger of filing for bankruptcy and 28% are facing eviction.

Multiple local spots also told KOIN 6 News it’s been hard to staff through the omicron surge. Mother’s Bistro said just last week they made the costly decision to close until February because of sick calls.

“Passing something like that would be a lifeline for tens of thousands of businesses nationally,” Huffman said.