Thousands of foodservice professionals will gather for annual regional tradeshow.
METAIRIE, La. - The Louisiana Restaurant Association’s (LRA) premier foodservice event, The LRA Showcase, takes place August 6-7, 2022 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Halls I-J, with thousands of attendees registered. The Showcase is open to foodservice industry professionals from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The Showcase is a must for restaurant owners, managers and buyers; hotel food and beverage directors and many others. “It’s the only place in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast to gain insightful industry knowledge and save valuable time by shopping hundreds of companies under one roof,” said Stan Harris, President & CEO of the LRA.
The LRA Showcase is the largest, most comprehensive industry event in the Gulf South region. Companies will be featuring a wide range of industry-focused products and services. It will deliver an environment where exhibitors can promote their products, services and supplies, and attendees can attend educational sessions and network among their peers.
The Opening Ceremony Saturday morning, August 6, at 9:45 a.m. in the Hall I lobby will feature special guest National Restaurant Association Chair Lance Trenary, and will kick off 69 years of bringing together restaurateurs and suppliers for the ultimate shopping and learning experience. Trenary is the President and CEO of Golden Corral Corporation, a nearly 2 billion dollar organization comprised of 35,000 employees and almost 200 franchise entities that operate 460 of the system’s 500 restaurants across 42 states.
The Showcase features the popular Kitchen Counter area presented by Republic National Distributing Company, where express presentations will be made both days of the Showcase and will cover emerging trends, best business practices, and professional development. Timely sessions of note include:
See the full lineup at https://www.lra.org/speaker-series.html
The 2022 LRA Showcase will once again be the venue for the Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO), celebrating 15 years in conjunction with the LRA Showcase. GASCO is produced by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board (LSPMB) and the Louisiana Office of Tourism. On August 6, 14 chefs from across the nation will compete, using domestic seafood from their home states, vying for the title of King or Queen of American Seafood.
In June, Chef Amanda Cusey of The Villa Harlequin in Lake Charles was crowned Queen of Louisiana Seafood during the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off. She will be representing Louisiana this year at GASCO. This year’s judges for the competition include Louisiana native Chef Joh Folse, who owns Restaurant R’evolution inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Also included is James Briscione is a chef, author, and Food Network personality. He is a featured chef on the new Food Network Kitchen app offering live and on demand cooking classes. Hosts are Gerald Gruenig of KLFY-TV’s Passe Partout and Acadiana Eats morning shows in Lafayette, and former King of Louisiana Seafood and restaurateur in Monroe, Chef Cory Bahr, who has appeared on the Food Network programs, Food Network Star and Chopped.
“Having GASCO as part of the LRA Showcase demonstrates our industry’s commitment to promoting not only Gulf seafood, but all domestic seafood, as a center of the plate staple in Louisiana and beyond,” added Harris.
The GASCO is open to the public, and tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door of Hall J. Opening ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m., and closing ceremonies will be at 4:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the LRA Education Foundation.
PLEASE NOTE: While the GASCO is open to the public, the LRA Showcase is for foodservice industry professionals at least 18 years of age only. Security personnel will be onsite to monitor event barriers. Registered Showcase attendees will be allowed access to both events.
Sunday, August 7, the LRA will host the very first Big Easy Bartender’s Bash. Nine bartenders from restaurants across Louisiana will compete for a grand prize of $1,000 by creating their very own Jameson Irish Whiskey cocktail, sponsored by Republic National Distributing Company.
Thank you to the 2022 LRA Showcase Sponsors: Republic National Distributing Company; Pan American Life Insurance Group; Ecolab; Toast; UnitedHealth Group; Johnson, Yacoubian & Paysse; New Orleans Roast; Auto-Chlor System; Sysco; Fisher Phillips; Safety National; Melchiode Marks King LLC; QED Hospitality.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association is one of the largest business organizations in the state, representing restaurant operations and related businesses. The restaurant industry in Louisiana is one the state’s largest private employers, providing jobs to more than 216,600 residents. Restaurants in Louisiana are expected to generate sales of $9 billion in 2018. Get up-to-date news about the LRA and the restaurant industry from www.lra.org.
The annual Louisiana Restaurant Association General Membership Meeting will be held, Sunday, August 7, 2022, upon adjournment of the LRA Board of Directors meeting at 10:30 a.m. at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Room 294.
Presented by Patrick Gros, CPA
Patrick is a CPA, and the principle of his own firm with notable restaurants as clients. He is also a restaurateur and owner of Bienvenue on Hickory, which provides him a level of knowledge and depth beyond what you may expect from a CPA.
Restaurant accounting is an ongoing challenge. To operate your restaurant at its maximum to measure revenues, expenses, and profitability, all restaurant owners and operators should have solid accounting practices in place. The key reasons being to measure the key financial indicators of a restaurant’s operations, including, but not limited to, segments of revenue (food, beer, liquor, and wine), cost of goods sold, total labor costs, and various indirect costs (credit card fees, rent, insurance, supplies, etc.). Next to the food and beverages quality, service, and atmosphere, accounting practices are critical. It provides the measurement of the success of operations, as well as provides indicators to the operators of what needs to be addressed and corrected to be profitable at the operations in place.
Pandemic Programs to Aid Small Businesses
Outside of the normal accounting practices, we have been provided many opportunities through the CARES Act and additional government programs with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Small Business Administration (SBA). These programs include, but are not limited to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, Employee Retention Tax Credits (ERTC) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs).
Payroll Protection Program – Forgiveness Underway
For those who obtained PPP loans, most companies have reached the deadline to submit forgiveness, or are reaching the deadline soon. When submitting forgiveness, consideration and coordination should be made as to the payroll wages used to obtained 100 percent forgiveness, as compared to wages used for ERTC. The guidelines require that at least 60 percent of the amount equal to the loan funds be spent on payroll. If you have enough non-payroll eligible expenses to submit to cover the funds spent for the remaining 40 percent of the loan amount, this will allow you to use more payroll for ERTC. The same wages submitted for PPP loan forgiveness cannot be used for ERTC calculations if the company qualifies for these credits that given quarter. No double dipping!
Employee Retention Tax Credit – Many are unaware they are eligible
The IRS has provided the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) as a refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes. For 2020, the tax credit is equal to 50 percent of the qualified wages (and certain health plan costs) an eligible employer pays for employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. In addition, the eligible employer can qualify for a tax credit equal to 70 percent of qualified wages (and certain health plan costs) paid for an eligible employee per quarter from January 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. These credits can be obtained by calculating the qualified tax credits and amending the applicable quarterly 941 reports to get a refund. Certain restrictions apply for eligible employees (certain relatives, owners greater than 50 percent, etc.).
Employers, including tax-exempt organizations, are eligible for the credit if they operate a trade or business during calendar year 2020 and 2021 and experience either:
The credit applies to qualified wages (including certain health plan expenses) paid during this period or any calendar quarter in which operations were suspended.
In addition, the employer must have less than 100 full-time employees in 2020 and less than 500 employees in 2021 to qualify for the ERTC.
ERTC and Restaurant Start Up during Pandemic
The IRS has provided for a special situation for start-up businesses during the ERTC time periods noted above. Furthermore, there are additional calculation that may apply for those companies that don’t qualify for the above noted eligibility requirements. You should contact your Certified Public Accountant for specific information on these special circumstances.
How to Perform a Cost Segregation Study
Many companies are not aware of the benefits provided by performing a Cost Segregation Study on real property that is purchased and owned by your company. This tax planning tool allows entities that deal with building, purchasing, expanding, or remodeling real estate properties to accelerate the depreciation deductions of the assets and defer federal and state income taxes. A Cost Segregation study is designed to break down the various components of a structure into useful lives of 5, 7, 15 and 39 depreciable assets.
When moving asset costs from 39 years (typically depreciation life of a commercial building) to 5, 7 and 15 years of its useful lives, depreciation expense is significantly accelerated to be deducted sooner, creating significant tax savings for the taxpayer.
In addition, consideration needs to be made that the 5, 7 and 15 year asset currently qualify for bonus depreciation, which in most cases can be deducted 100 percent in the year of acquisition.
Gros recommends that a qualified professional be retained to perform the Cost Segregation Study and issue a report providing documentation on the asset classification, in event that the company’s tax return is audited by the IRS.
This information is for educational purposes only. You should consult with your Certified Public Accountant for more specifics on the benefits of the ERTC and of a Cost Segregation Study for your company and particular situation.
As supply chain disruptions and skyrocketing food inflation continue to challenge our industry, we are working to encourage the Biden Administration to eliminate all tariffs that affect the restaurant supply chain.
But we need your help to tell the story of how these tariffs are continuing to harm American businesses and consumers. We are working with a coalition of businesses to share tariff impact stories highlighting the negative impact tariffs have had on their businesses. Please find a link below to share your story. If you prefer, the stories can be short and can remain anonymous. This information will be incredibly helpful to continue to show the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Administration the ongoing negative impact of the 301 tariffs on companies across the U.S.
Share your tariff impact story here.
After months of advocacy, the final agreement modernizes federal shipping law to address supply chain disruptions
The National Restaurant Association applauds final passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which should help address long-standing and systemic port disruptions impacting costs throughout the supply chain.
“Whether it’s food, packaging, or equipment restaurants depend on, supply chain disruptions are so bad, American importers and exporters are paying the highest shipping rates ever recorded for the worst service levels ever experienced,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “There’s no silver bullet that will solve the nation’s supply chain challenges, but we’re hopeful this legislation will provide some relief by updating federal regulations for the global shipping industry. After months of advocating with our supply chain partners for these changes, we hope modernization of the Ocean Shipping Act will help reduce shipping costs and improve supply chain challenges.
“We appreciate the support and effort of Sens. Amy Klobuchar and John Thune, who brought the Senate and House intentions together for this final bill, which we hope will create positive long-term impacts for the restaurant industry and our supply chain partners.”
Specifically, the legislation will:
National Restaurant Association working to ensure proposal addresses industry concerns while providing strong consumer protections
On June 24, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce marked up the American Data Privacy and Protection Act. The bill would set a national standard for data collection and protection. The National Restaurant Association believes that a preemptive federal data privacy law that creates a single, uniform standard would benefit the industry, but have concerns that this bill, as drafted, would present significant challenges for large and small operators.
“Whether it's putting cash and receipts in a register or safe, or maintaining the highest standards when selecting, storing, and preparing food, security is a priority for restaurant operators,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “Securing our customers’ personal information is no different. As the cornerstone of communities throughout America, restaurant operators build their business on trusted relationships with their guests, and they rely on robust data privacy and security practices to strengthen that trust in today’s digital economy.”
The Association has expressed concerns about specific areas of the bill, including:
“This bill is moving very quickly through the Committee, and we are working with members to address these concerns. The good news is that all these concerns have resolutions that would vastly improve this bill for the restaurant industry while still strengthening protections for consumers,” said Kennedy.
Find the Association’s letter to the Subcommittee here and find the full text of the bill here.
Second Ever Queen of Louisiana Seafood Crowned as Chef Amanda Cusey of Lake Charles wins the 15th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off
Chef Amanda Cusey of The Villa Harlequin in Lake Charles became the second ever Queen of Louisiana Seafood in Lafayette, besting 11 other chefs to win the 15th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board. For the fifth year, the event was held at the Cajundome Convention Center in conjunction with A Taste of EatLafayette. The winner of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off will represent Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off held in conjunction with the Louisiana Restaurant Association 69th Annual Showcase in New Orleans August 6.
To win the crown, Chef Cusey prepared a pan-seared red drum over a tomato polenta with a crawfish cream sauce showcasing her creativity and highlighting the superior quality of the seafood that comes from Louisiana’s shorelines and vast waterways.
“I was blown away. I was surprised because I did not think I was going to win. I thought I might get into the top two or three, but I was not expecting number one,” said Chef Amanda Cusey, 2022 Queen of Louisiana Seafood.
“We’re here for the fifth year in Lafayette, partnering with Lafayette Travel and their Eat Lafayette promotion for the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off to crown the King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “Chefs from all over Louisiana competed with the winner representing Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans this August. Additionally, the winner will represent Louisiana all over the world promoting the great seafood caught off the shores of our state. This event is a great opportunity to promote great Louisiana fresh seafood and partner with local restaurants. It was definitely a great event in Lafayette tonight.”
The first duty for the 2022 King/Queen of Louisiana Seafood is to prepare to represent the state in the 18th Annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans on Saturday, August 6.
Closely behind Chef Cusey in second place was Chef Amy Sins of Langlois in New Orleans. And, coming in third place was Chef David Dickensauge of Tsunami in Baton Rouge.
Each dish was scrutinized by some of Louisiana’s most seasoned chefs and food lovers including Chef Edgar “Dook” Chase IV, chef/owner of Dook’s Place and part of the Dooky Chase Restaurant family; Celeste Chachere, great-granddaughter of Tony Chachere and Director of Marketing and Development for Tony Chachere’s Creole Foods; Chef Cody Carroll, former King of Louisiana Seafood and chef/owner of Hot Tails in New Roads and Prairieville; and, Chef Nealy Frentz, former winner of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off with her husband Keith and chef/owner of LOLA Restaurant in Covington.
The competitors for the 2022 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off were:
Those inspired by the chefs’ culinary creativity and looking to bring the state’s best seafood dishes to their own kitchen can visit www.LouisianaSeafood.com for recipes of each competing dish. To keep up with Louisiana Seafood throughout the year, follow @LaSeafoodBoard on Instagram and Twitter and at www.facebook.com/louisianaseafood.
The LRA Advocacy Team is proud of the work our team accomplished on behalf of our members during the 2022 Legislative Session, which wrapped June 6. This session saw numerous bills filed that had potential to impact our industry in significant ways at a time when food, labor and operating costs are creating stress for LRA members. Of significant concern to restaurant profitability were numerous bills that proposed establishing a state minimum wage, with some offering annual CPI based increases. This year saw varying approaches including a ballot referendum proposing a constitutional amendment with others in statute. All of these bills were defeated in their initial committee hearing. A bill requiring paid sick leave for employers of as few as five workers was also defeated in committee.
As the only industry that has a tip credit while still requiring the employer to guarantee at least minimum wage, the LRA took the lead on defeating legislation seeking to double the tip credit wage from $2.13 to $4.26. We are grateful to LRA Baton Rouge members Megan Klock of Ruffino's and Kevin Kimball of Wayne Stabiler Enterprises for testifying before the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on how our industry workforce is compensated and stories on their business operations. This type of first hand member testimony is invaluable to our lobbying efforts.
The LRA also pushed for the passage of legislation that included renewed funding for tourism promotion from ARPA funds and a rewrite to how we solicit and fund major and regional events. This effort funds incentives to bid major national and regional sports, political and entertainment events. There was an initial appropriation this year and we will work to grow this next session. For the first time up to 50% of the state sales tax impact when determined after these events will be returned to these funds to invent the next round of events. Special thanks to House Speaker Clay Schexnayder who put his name and efforts behind passing both of these key pieces of legislation.
The LRA developed, negotiated and led in the passing of a package of bills that expand opportunities for Louisiana based craft breweries. Thanks to the ATC, Beer Industry League and the Craft Brewers Guild for partnering to create this legislation. In general, this will provide the opportunity to self distribute if desired, open additional tap rooms with breweries, transfer product between breweries and continue to utilize wholesale distribution, should they desire. A separate bill will provide each brewery location to host up to 12 events per year at their taprooms, allow for using a licensed caterer for food and outside alcohol and continue to allow families to attend these events. This package has gone to Governor Edwards.
The LRA, in two separate bills, included preemption of local delivery fees for restaurants statewide. If signed into law, only a state ATC restaurant delivery permit would be required. Additionally one of these bills will allow a restaurant with a delivery permit to sell wine in the original manufacturer sealed bottle with restaurant food for curbside pickup.
And, after this year's confusion regarding the repeal of the restaurant wholesale seafood permit through Wildlife and Fisheries license fee increase last year, the prior regulation was adopted that will return the permit process to what we followed in up to in the end of 2020. It will require only a single annual permit application and fee.
For the New Orleans members, we pushed the passage of legislation that will allow the City Council to have input and review of the Sewerage & Water Board's billing processes. Too many LRA members report significant fluctuation in their water bills with little to no explanation. This should bring some transparency to this process.
During this term we have been fortunate that the House Speaker Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez started with their first jobs in the restaurant industry. They both have an open door to our lobby team and have been very supportive of addressing industry needs.
Eight first-time competitors among the 12 chefs chosen to battle in the 15th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-off
LAFAYETTE, La. – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board today announced the selection of chefs from across the state to represent their areas in the 15th Annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off (LASCO). Among the 12 chefs announced today are eight first-time competitors vying to take the crown of King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood. This year’s competition will be held Tuesday, June 7, at the Cajundome Convention Center in Lafayette.
“With so many chefs in Louisiana to choose from, it was hard to narrow it down to just 12 competitors. There is no doubt judging dishes this year will be more difficult than ever before,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “In Louisiana, good food is just part of what connects us to our diverse heritage and seafood is a big part of that. From recipes passed down through generations to the culinary creations of our state’s chefs, seafood has developed a culinary identity for Louisiana unlike any other state. That’s the main reason for events like the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off. It’s a chance to celebrate the great contribution of our chefs, and our hard working seafood industry, make in Louisiana that truly Feed Your Soul.”
Chefs competing to become the 2022 King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood include:
• Ryan Cashio; Cajun House & Catering, LLC; Laplace (First-time Competitor)
• Amanda Cusey; The Villa Harlequin; Lake Charles (First-time Competitor)
• Russell Davis; Eliza Restaurant & Bar and JED’S Local Louisiana Po’boys; Baton Rouge (First-time
• David Dickensauge; Tsunami; Baton Rouge (Competed in 2014, 2015)
• Ben Fidelak; Mariner’s Restaurant; Natchitoches (Competed in 2017, 2020)
• Ryan Gaudet; Spahr’s Seafood; Des Allemands (Competed in 2015, 2016)
• Kyle Hudson; Beausoleil Coastal Cuisine; Baton Rouge (First-time Competitor)
• Karlos Knott; Bayou Teche Brewing & Cajun Saucer; Arnaudville (First-time Competitor)
• Brett Monteleone; Junior’s on Harrison; New Orleans (First-time Competitor)
• Amy Sins; Langlois; New Orleans (Competed in 2016, 2019, 2020)
• Joshua Spell; Fezzo’s Seafood Steakhouse & Oyster Bar; Crowley (First-time Competitor)
• Grant Wallace; Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse; New Orleans (First-time Competitor)
To be eligible to compete, a chef must be the executive chef of a free-standing Louisiana restaurant belonging to the Louisiana Restaurant Association, a proud partner of both the Louisiana and Great American Seafood Cook-Offs.
“What differentiates Louisiana from our Gulf neighbors is the access we have to an abundance of seafood,” said Stan Harris, President and CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. “Louisiana seafood is part of our identity and culture. The LASCO event allows our amazing culinary talent to create dishes that anyone would be proud to enjoy, and that draw people into our state to know why we’re so different.”
Confirmed judges for the 2022 Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off include Chef Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV and Celeste Chachere.
Chef Edgar “Dooky” Chase, IV, is considered the scion of the influential Dooky Chase Restaurant family. A rising star in the restaurant industry, Edgar is the chef and owner of Dook’s Place in the Treme neighborhood in downtown New Orleans. He has served as executive chef at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, as well as proprietor of Leah’s Kitchen and Dook’s Burders, and a partner in a number of other restaurants located in the New Orleans International Airport. He holds a Masters of Business Administration, and a formal Culinary degree from Le Condon Bleu in Paris, France. Additionally, he received his undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance from Dillard University in 2004.
Celeste Chachere is the great-granddaughter of the “Ole Master” of Creole cooking Tony Chachere. She is also the Director of Marketing and Development for Tony Chachere’s Creole Foods, which began in 1972 and celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. What started as dream to write a cookbook, including the recipe for his seasoning blend, has grown into a worldwide brand. Just about every home in the south has a red and green can of Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning in the pantry. Today, Tony Chachere’s produces a full range of Creole cuisine from dinner mixes to seasonings and injectable marinades. Celeste has her hands full carrying on the rich tradition of bringing big ideas and dreams to life, much like her great-grandfather did 50 years ago.
For the fifth year the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off is being held in Lafayette, the city said to have more restaurants per capita than any other American city. Many of the restaurants that have helped earn that distinction will be serving samples to spectators as a part of the Taste of EatLafayette, which will take place in conjunction with the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off.
In addition to earning the title of King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood, the winner will represent the state at a variety of events including the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and held in New Orleans during the Louisiana Restaurant Association Showcase on Saturday, August 6.
Follow @LaSeafoodBoard on Instagram and Twitter and keep up will all Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off
(LASCO) events via the official hashtag, #LASCO22.
National Restaurant Association Statement on Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 vote
Washington, D.C. (May 19, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Senate failed to advance the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (S. 4008), ending the possibility of replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The vote is a devastating blow to the restaurant industry and small business operators.
“Throughout the pandemic, restaurants focused on serving their communities. When government-mandated closures shuttered dining rooms, restaurants found a way to shift operating models and keep employees on the payroll. When first responders needed a hot meal, restaurants stepped in to help in cities and towns across the country,” said Michelle Korsmo, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “When Congress offered these restaurants the RRF lifeline, restaurant owners and operators made business decisions based on those commitments. Restaurants that are still trying to make up for what was lost in the pandemic today are struggling with workforce shortages, record-high inflation, and supply chain constraints. Today’s vote will further exacerbate those challenges and result in more economic hardships for the families and communities across the country that rely on the restaurant and foodservice industry.”
“Today, a Senate filibuster dashed the promise made to more than 177,000 small business owners in communities across the country” said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “These restaurant owners believed the creation of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund was a down payment, and that the Senate would complete the mission with this vote. A bipartisan majority voted to begin debate on this critical legislation, but it wasn’t the 60 votes needed. While there are valid questions about government spending and inflation, restaurants should not be caught in the crossfire. We applaud the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), as well as Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for their work in creating and pressing to replenish the RRF."
The $48 billion Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (S. 4008), introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), included $40 billion for RRF replenishment and $8 billion in support for other industries deeply impacted by the pandemic. The House passed the Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 (H.R. 3807), that included $42 billion to replenish the RRF, on April 7. Both political parties agreed that the RRF should be replenished but couldn’t reach a consensus on how to pay for it. Democrats generally wanted to treat replenishment as emergency spending, while Republicans generally wanted existing funds reallocated.
The American Rescue Plan established the RRF with $28.6 billion that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) called a down payment to restaurants. More than 278,000 restaurants applied for funds from the RRF, but only 101,000 applications were funded before the Small Business Administration ran out of funding. By leaving 177,000 without aid, the Federal government essentially picked winners and losers, among direct competitors, based on chance, not need.
The program’s initial round of funding, which operators used primarily to pay off debt and meet payroll, was a resounding success. According to Association research(Opens in a new window), more than 900,000 restaurant jobs were saved, and 96% of recipients report that the funds helped their establishments remain open.
But those that did not receive funds are still languishing. In fact, 62% of operators says their restaurant accumulated additional debt since the beginning of the pandemic; 57% said their restaurant fell behind on expenses. Industry-wide, eating and drinking establishments lost $300 billion in sales the first year of the pandemic.
Even though the restaurant industry appears to be recovering from a consumer spending perspective, for restaurants, most of which operate on 3-5% pre-tax profit margins, the challenges continue to mount. Soaring food prices, supply chain constraints, and workforce shortages make it impossible for many restaurants to pay off debt that was accumulated during the pandemic.
Find the latest on trends in key restaurant industry economic indicators—including employment, sales, and wholesale food costs--here.