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Schumer Says Too Many Local Restaurants Across The Capital Region Were & Are At Risk Of Closure; Many Of State’s Restaurants Might Not Survive The Next Six Months Without Dedicated Federal Relief—Which Is Now On The Way To Montgomery County 

Now Montgomery Restaurants Can Apply For DIRECT Fed Assistance To Get Through The Pandemic and Recover 

Schumer & Rep. Tonko: Relief For Montgomery County Restaurants Is On The Menu  

Standing at Russo’s Grill in Amsterdam, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer formally announced that New York restaurants are now eligible for their own, DIRECT, federal pandemic relief, thanks to a provision he championed in the American Rescue Plan which he led to passage in the Senate. With New York state boosting Montgomery County restaurant capacity to 75% less than a month ago, Schumer said more help is on the way for the Capital Region economy BUT that local restaurants need to apply, and that the SBA will need to be at the ready to help locals. Schumer said he is pushing the Small Business Administration to stand up the new program ASAP and that he wants New York eateries first in line for these funds, given New York has been so hard hit by the pandemic.

Schumer was joined by U.S. Congressman Paul Tonko, Mayor Michael Cinquanti; Bob Purtell, Montgomery County Legislature; Mike Russo, owner of Russo’s Grill;  Lou Lanzi owner of Lorenzo’s Southside restaurant; Markus Guillen of Mundo’s Café; and Jenna Dodd, a single mother of two from Amsterdam.

“Even with 75% capacity rules that started on March 19th, Capital Region restaurants, their employees, and the overall regional economy still need immediate federal relief to weather COVID because too many of the places we know and love could close without the help, leaving a giant hole in our local economy,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why I fought so hard to make sure this relief bill included a vital ingredient – a restaurants relief fund based on the RESTAURANTS Act– to get our restaurants ‘cooking’ again. Getting federal dollars into the hands of struggling small businesses, like restaurants in the Capital Region, not only makes sense, but it’s the recipe needed to keep small businesses like Russo’s going.”   

“Our Capital Region restaurants are pillars of their communities that will be critical to rebuilding our Main Street economies,” Congressman Tonko said. “They have endured extraordinary hardship during this pandemic, and with the pandemic entering its second year, some of our cherished establishments are still at risk of shutting their doors for good. But many have proven that—with a little help from Congress and the American people—they can weather this storm and help our region and nation build back better than ever. We established a restaurant lifeline last term and strengthened it with our American Rescue Plan to protect these Main Street institutions and the jobs and livelihoods that depend on them. The Small Business Administration must act quickly to ensure our restaurants can access this vital support without delay. My thanks to our Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for ensuring this key provision made it through the Senate so it could be signed into law.”  

The new restaurant relief fund, modeled on the widely supported, bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act, will provide a down-payment of $28.6 billion in flexible grants through the Small Business Administration (SBA) as a lifeline for New York’s restaurant industry, one of the hardest hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Food service or drinking establishments, including caterers, brewpubs, taprooms, and tasting rooms, that are not part of an affiliated group with more than 20 locations, will be eligible. To provide comprehensive support to local restaurants, grants from the fund could be used alongside first and second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance, and the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

In New York’s 20th Congressional District, 26,097 people were estimated to have worked in the restaurant and bar industry pre-pandemic. Schumer said that with the Capital Region poised to get a slice of the $28.6 billion dollar federal pot, local restaurants we know and love in Montgomery County and across the region can stay open for business, recover, and create opportunities for workers to return to old or new restaurant jobs can emerge. Schumer also said the countless jobs Capital Region food establishments provide will be less uncertain now that this direct relief is on the way. The owner of Russo’s Grill talked about their own pandemic struggles and the fight to keep the doors open along with their hope for the future with this relief package.  

At the height of the pandemic, the NYS Restaurants Association estimates that 80% of workers in that industry were out of work and 1 in every 6 restaurants closed. In a report released by the New York State Restaurant Association (NYSRA), 54% – over half – of New York restaurants said they likely would not survive the next six months without federal relief. This, compared to 37% of restaurants nationwide, indicates the dire situation of the restaurant industry in New York, Schumer said. NYSRA also estimated from the previously mentioned survey that thousands of restaurants in New York have already been forced to close due to the pandemic.

“This is a critical moment for our Capital Region food and beverage establishments,” Schumer added. “The SBA must roll up their sleeves ASAP and begin the hard but important work of getting these funds to our Montgomery County restaurants.”

More details on Senator Schumer’s new restaurant relief fund appear below:

Grant Maximum – $10 million per restaurant group, $5 million per individual restaurant

Eligible Expenses – Payroll and benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies including protective equipment and cleaning materials, food, operational expenses, covered supplier costs as defined by the SBA under the PPP program, sick leave, and any other expenses deemed essential by the Administrator.

Covered Period – Grants can be spent on eligible expenses from 2/15/20 through 12/31/21 and the Administrator may extend the period through two years from enactment if conditions warrant.

Set Asides – $5 billion of the $28.6 billion total is reserved for restaurants with less than $500,000 in gross receipts in 2019 for the first 60 days of the program. During the initial 21-day period, the administrator will prioritize awarding grants to eligible entities that are owned or controlled by women or Veterans or are socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.

Schumer also briefly discussed other wins for the Capital Region in the American Rescue Plan. Out of the estimated more than $100 billion headed to New York, the Capital Region will receive:

  • Approximately $1.1 billion in direct payments for more than an estimated 441,000 households in the Capital Region. Nearly an estimated 23,000 households in Montgomery County will receive approximately $57 million and nearly an estimated 25,000 households in Fulton County will receive approximately $61 million.
  • More than $1.95 million going in state and local aid towards the city of Amsterdam and over $9.55 million going directly to Montgomery County.
  • More than $1.6 million going to Gloversville and $900,000 to Johnstown and $10.3 million going directly to Fulton County.
  • More than $5.27 million to Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • Over $32,000 for Fulton County Airport

The Capital Region will also receive a sizable portion of the following funds:

  • Medicaid FMAP Increase: $2.7 Billion($2.1 billion already delivered from Schumer pushing President Biden to extend through the end of the calendar year, in addition to approximately 600 million from a targeted enhanced FMAP for home and community-based services from this legislation)
  • Amtrak Relief: $1.7 Billion (Relief for Amtrak to help maintain operations and other expenditures during the pandemic, especially in New York.)
  • Airline Payroll Support Program Enhancement: $15 Billion (The CARES Act Airline Payroll Support Program which will save thousands of New York airline and airline contractor jobs by keeping workers on payroll without furloughs or reducing pay rates and benefits until March 31, 2021 New York will receive sizable share of these funds.)
  • Child Care and Help for NY Families: $5.3 Billion
  • Enhanced Unemployment Benefits for NYers: $21.7 Billion
  • New Covid-19 Vaccine Procurement and Testing: $4 Billion
  • Small Business, Restaurant, and Live Venue Relief: $57.8 Billion
  • Broadband Connectivity: $632 Million