WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Dozens of restaurant and bar owners in the District of Columbia came together to appeal to Congress for help, as the countries lawmakers make final decisions on COVID-19 relief packages.
The owners brought plates with them, each representing an employee lost since the pandemic hit. Andrew Markert, owner of Beuchert’s Saloon, said, “We’re all very, very scared right now.”
The owners, and others working in the food and beverage industry, are scared of losing everything after already losing so much. Markert said, “I don’t think people realize how close a lot of restaurants are to closing. A few friends of mine, sometimes it’s one weeks difference in a busy week versus a slow week whether you’re going to stay open.”
While some restaurants are holding on week-to-week, letting go of staff is keeping the doors open. The plates brought to the United States Capitol represented Washingtonians who lost jobs, but it’s a nationwide issue. Derek Brown, the owner of Columbia Room, said, “The sad truth of it is we all have an abundance of plates right now. Ultimately, if people are operating, they’re operating in a greatly diminished capacity.”
Brown tweeted out the idea of meeting at the Capitol, and was happy to see so many show up to make a statement. He said it means more knowing that they’re standing up for the restaurant industry at large. “To have all of these people ban together, not just for themselves and the community here, but to help all of the independent bars and restaurants throughout the U.S. who are suffering is heartwarming in a disheartening time,” Brown said.
Markert added, “It’s disheartening to have to carry around people you have to let go or hope will be there next week, but you don’t know if you’ll survive next week.”
Ultimately, they are hoping the showing will catch Congress’s attention, and lead to the Restaurants Act being passed with a COVID-19 relief package. The Restaurants Act would give $120 billion to struggling restaurants nationwide. Brown said, “I hope Congress gets the message here, that we’re the owners, entrepreneurs and workers, and we hope they’re able to come through for us.”
Congress has a short time to take action, as government funding runs out on Friday, December 11.