One year into the pandemic, the National Restaurant Association is celebrating the significant accomplishments that, in the face of enormous loss, supported the industry and built a foundation for rebuilding in 2021. The accomplishments of the last year have been both large and small, providing access to a myriad of resources that restaurants of all types have used to survive and on which they can continue to rely for recovery.
“Restaurants are the backdrop of the most defining moments in our lives, and in the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has stolen that from us,” said Tom Bené, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association and CEO of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “While local restaurants in every community fought to survive, the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, and our state restaurant association partners have been by their side. We have focused on their needs, and our ongoing commitment has helped to secure major wins that created a variety of options for every restaurant.”
The Association and its state restaurant association partners united the industry to be the voice of every restaurant in addressing their many needs at all levels of government. Together, they developed and distributed training and operating guidance, communicated safety efforts to customers, and supported industry workers during the hardest days of the pandemic.
The Association’s top accomplishments include:
Conceiving the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) is based on the Senate version of the RESTAURANTS Act and the original plan posed by the Association in March 2020. This fund will help the hardest hit small and medium-sized restaurants kickstart their recovery. The Association is committed to preparing all eligible restaurant owners to successfully apply for RRF grants.
Securing access to $72+ billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans
At a time when restaurants were most in need of capital, the Association secured expanded access to forgivable loans on two occasions and worked with Congress to refine the program to meet the specific needs of restaurants.
Designing free COVID-19 ServSafe training modules
The safety experts at ServSafe immediately stepped in to create much needed COVID-19 training. The free courses have been accessed more than 1.3 million times.
Establishing a $21.5 million Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation partnered with celebrity chef Guy Fieri to establish the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF), which provided grants to more than 43,000 restaurant workers.
Creating the first COVID-19 operating guidance for all restaurants
ServSafe stepped up to provide restaurants of all sizes with pandemic operating best practices. The Guidance continues to be updated as new science-based information becomes available.
Ordering up cocktails to-go
The Association and the state restaurant associations worked to secure this lifeline in 32 states and D.C. – the most significant change to alcohol laws since Prohibition – and in many states, that work has already made the change permanent.
Increased consumer confidence in on-premises dining with a national TV campaign
The Association created its first consumer ad campaign welcoming diners back to their favorite local restaurants, highlighting the health and safety practices operators and employees.
Educating with the ServSafe Dining Commitment
Consumers nationwide can look for the ServSafe Dining Commitment logo to know that the restaurant is committed to the program’s health and safety best practices and adhering to operating guidance.
Saving restaurants $15.7B with PPP deductibility
Restaurant operators who used their PPP loans to pay qualified expenses didn’t have to worry about surprise federal tax bills because the Association got this loophole fixed.
Expanding ERTC to support employment
Employee Retention Tax Credits (ERTC) are key tax benefits used by many restaurants. Because of a change pursued by the Association, restaurants can now receive up to $19,000 per eligible employee in ERTC across 2020 and 2021.
“We’ve lost 110,000 restaurants nationwide to the pandemic so far, but the combined efforts of the innovative and hard-working restaurant owners and employees in every community, along with these many accomplishments, may have kept our losses from being far greater,” said Bené. “While we don’t expect the industry to fully recover this year, the Association and our state restaurant association partners will continue to aggressively pursue the necessary resources to rebuild the industry. Restaurants are an essential part of all our lives, and in the coming year we look forward to welcoming friends and families back to our tables.”
The latest information about how restaurants are rebuilding is updated regularly on restaurant.org.