National Restaurant Association reveals to Congress worsening economic reality for restaurants

As Association writes to Congress with survey results, 76% of restaurant operators say conditions worse than three months ago

Seventy-six percent of restaurant operators say that business conditions now are worse then three months ago, according to recently-released survey results from the National Restaurant Association. In a letter to Congress, the Association noted that the survey shows that the RRF first round funding saved more than 900,000 jobs and helped 96% of recipients stay open.

But as the industry comes to terms with the Omicron impact on restaurants, The Association and advocates call on the RRF to be replenished.

Half of restaurant operators that did not receive RRF grants indicate it’s not likely they will stay in business beyond the pandemic without a grant. Incidentally, 94% of restaurant operators that applied for an RRF grant, but did not receive funding, indicated a future grant would enable them to retain or hire back employees.

“This highlights how impactful RRF replenishment would be. Our own estimates indicate that replenishing the RRF would save an additional 1.6 million restaurant jobs,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association. “The RRF was a critical lifeline to many, but far more remain on the sidelines, desperately looking for support amidst continued economic uncertainty. The decisions you make in the coming weeks will be critical toward the future of the restaurants that are so proud to serve your communities.”

In light of the surge of Omicron, many restaurants have had to reduce operations, cut seating, and shut down dining rooms, pivoting to off-premises business. Unfortunately, the Omicron impact on restaurants is real. At many restaurants, lower sales volumes in 2021 than 2019 have been the result.

In addition, 88% of restaurants experienced a decline in customer demand for indoor on-premises dining due to the omicron variant. Sadly, a total of 76% of operators report that business conditions are worse now than three months ago. And 74% say their restaurant is less profitable now than it was before the pandemic.

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“The new data show that restaurant recovery is paralyzed and nowhere near complete, wrote Kennedy in the letter. “The restaurant industry is at an inflection point, and we need your leadership now more than ever. Congress must act now, to replenish the RRF in the upcoming legislative package to fund the government.”

Today, the Association was joined by two small business restaurant operators at a press conference to discuss how replenishing the RRF would impact their businesses and their team members. Kennedy was also be joined by Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research for the Association, to present the latest overview of the state of the restaurant industry.

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