Just as restaurants began recovering from the 2020 shutdowns and challenges due to COVID, the delta variant began to appear. The fragile restaurant industry is now fearing people’s dining habits will not return to normal again this year, leading the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), the National Restaurant Association, and other state restaurant association partners to urge Congressional leadership to swiftly replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).
Florida has more than 11,500 pending applications that total nearly $2.7 billion in stabilization funding that would be addressed by the $60 billion proposed replenishment bills.
The letter urges Congress to complete the mission of the RRF and provide adequate funds to replenish the program and offer relief for the applications still pending.
“There are thousands of Florida small business owners stuck in limbo waiting to find out if Congress will act to provide the stability they need to make it through this new pandemic threat and into the future,” said Carol Dover, FRLA President and CEO. “The rise of coronavirus variants like delta threaten to push these restaurants closer to permanently closing their doors. It’s time for Congress to step in and fulfill the promise of the RRF.”
A new national consumer confidence survey by the National Restaurant Association found that a majority of consumers have changed their dining behavior, which is putting acute pressure back on the restaurant industry. This faltering consumer confidence comes on top of restaurant labor costs at a 10-year high, increased food and supply prices, continued labor shortage issues, and crushing long-term debt loads for countless restaurant owners.
Specifically, the survey found the following:
- 6 in 10 adults changed their restaurant use due to the rise in the delta variant
- 19 percent of adults have stopped going out to restaurants
- Nine percent have cancelled existing plans to go out to a restaurant in recent weeks
- 37 percent have ordered takeout or delivery instead of going out to a restaurant
- 19 percent have chosen to sit outside instead of inside when going out to a restaurant
“For an industry that requires a ‘full house’ every evening to make a profit, this is a dangerous trend,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “These changes indicate declining consumer confidence that will make it more difficult for most restaurant owners to maintain their delicate financial stability.”