(The Center Square) – Restaurants in Illinois face a second winter with complications from COVID-19.
The rise in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant has made six in 10 restaurant patrons more reluctant to eat out than they were earlier this year, according to a new survey released by the National Restaurant Association.
Thirty-seven percent of restaurant owners surveyed said they had reverted to take-out and delivery rather than choosing meals inside. A troubling 19% of those polled said they had stopped eating out altogether.
Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, is pushing for reimbursement from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to help restaurants through the winter.
“Restaurants need your support,” Toia said. “Restaurants are the soul of every neighborhood.
Even in good times, 95 to 97% of every dollar a restaurant earns is reinvested in labor costs, product costs and fixed costs, Toia said. COVID-19 mandates that limit the number of people who can eat inside make restaurant business plans unworkable.
“You set up your business model with 200 seats, then you’re down to 100 seats. It won’t work, ”Toia said.
To keep their doors open, restaurants have relied on curbside pickup and delivery.
Despite Illinois’ freezing winters, restaurants have heated their patios and built igloos and other shelters to provide outdoor dining options.
“People have gotten used to eating out, and I think that’s going to be with us for a while,” Toia said.
As for profitability, Toia said, the options for curbside pickup and outdoor seating can only get restaurants so far. Ninety thousand restaurants across the country have closed their doors. More federal aid is essential, Toia said.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $ 28 billion program, was created under the American Rescue Plan Act last winter to provide restaurants, bars, food trucks and caterers with funding equal to their lost revenue. linked to the pandemic. The fund ran out of money in June. Only a third of claimants received payments.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act (HR3807 / S.2091) is now before Congress. The bill would add an additional $ 60 billion to the RRF and ensure that eligible restaurants and bars receive subsidies.