Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) introduced the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act of 2021. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation is an updated proposal to establish a $120 billion revitalization fund to support independent restaurants, breweries, and other hospitality businesses as they deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry due to COVID-19.
On Feb. 4, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the Restaurant Rescue Plan, a budget amendment put forth by Senators Wicker and Sinema that would create a reserve fund to provide grants to food and service drink establishments impacted by COVID-19. Ninety senators voted to pass the amendment, demonstrating that Congress understands the need for additional assistance for the hospitality industry. This is a positive first step toward including the RESTAURANTS Act in the next COVID-19 relief package.
The Brewers Association has advocated in support of the RESTAURANTS Act, first introduced in 2020, and has worked with the aforementioned legislators to include small and independent breweries among the hospitality businesses eligible for the grants provided in the legislation. The new bills now include brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms, and licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products as entities eligible for the grants.
Businesses that qualify can apply for grants of up to $10 million to cover eligible expenses retroactively to February 15, 2020 and up to eight months after the legislation is signed into law. The grants could be used to support payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, building maintenance, construction of outdoor facilities, supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, operational expenses, paid sick leave, debt obligations to suppliers, and any other essential expenses.
“We appreciate Congress understanding the important role that brewpubs and taprooms contribute to hospitality and tourism,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “If passed, these grants will provide much needed additional relief to the more than 8,400 small and independent breweries located in every congressional district in the U.S.”
There is still much that needs to happen for this legislation to pass. The Brewers Association will continue to advocate in support of the bill and encourage our members to do the same. We will update you with more information as it becomes available.