PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) called on the federal government to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) during a press conference Wednesday morning.
According to ORLA chief executive officer Jason Brandt, the situation for many Oregon restaurants is still dire because more than 2,500 restaurants that applied for relief from the federal government did not receive any funding from the RRF, a federal program that was designed to provide emergency assistance for restaurants and bars impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 2,300 Oregon restaurants did receive money from the fund and they're in a much better situation because of that, Brandt said. But the money for the RRF ran out and Brandt said if the fund isn't replenished, he's concerned a lot of restaurants won't be able to make it through the winter.
Brandt said it's important to give these restaurants a fighting chance, while they take on the challenging winter season. Right now, he said outdoor dining counts for about 20% of restaurant sales, but as the weather gets colder and rainier those sales will dwindle. Brandt said a lot of restaurants are still in debt, food prices are rising and it's hard to make a profit right now.
"The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a proven program and similar to the paycheck protection program, we should look at doubling down on a successful program," Brandt said. "There are so many restaurants and workers that would benefit from any act by the federal government to replenish the fund."
Gabriel Pascuzzi, a Portland Top Chef contestant and the chef-owner of Mama Bird, Stacked Sandwich Shop and Feel Good, spoke at Wednesday's press conference. Pascuzzi said he applied but didn't get any RRF funding. He said it's been hard to keep his restaurants up and running without that extra help during the pandemic.