Skip to content


Schumer Says Too Many Local Restaurants Across The Southern Tier 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 Chemung 

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

Schumer: Relief For Southern Tier Restaurants Is On The Menu 

Standing at Hill Top Inn Restaurant, a beloved and family-owned restaurant in Chemung County, 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 Chemung County restaurant capacity to 75% less than a month ago, Schumer said more help is on the way for the Southern Tier 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.

“Even with 75% capacity rules that started on March 19th, Southern Tier 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 Southern Tier, not only makes sense, but it’s the recipe needed to keep small businesses like the Hill Top Inn Restaurant going.”     

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.

Across the Southern Tier, over 12,000 people that work in restaurants and in hospitality lost their jobs due to the local industry’s struggles. Schumer said that with the Southern Tier poised to get a slice of the $28.6 billion dollar federal pot, local restaurants we know and love in Chemung 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 Southern Tier food establishments provide will be less uncertain now that this direct relief is on the way. The owners of Hill Top Inn Restaurant 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.  

“Across New York State the restaurant and hospitality industry has been hit incredibly hard by the impact of COVID-19 and the Southern Tier is no exception. Most restaurants operate on a razor thin profit margin and, locally, hundreds faced significant losses in 2020. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides essential support for the industry to help in the recovery process. We’re so grateful to Senator Schumer for his efforts to ensure this targeted legislation was included in the American Rescue Plan,” said Kamala Keeley, President & CEO of the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce.

In Chemung County, nearly 3,600 jobs were lost at the height of the pandemic, including nearly 2,900 in the leisure and hospitality sector. 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 Southern Tier 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 Chemung 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 Southern Tier in the American Rescue Plan. Out of the estimated more than $100 billion headed to New York, the Southern Tier will receive:

  • Approximately $842 million in direct payments for more than an estimated 338,000 households in the Southern Tier. An estimated 38,000 households in Chemung County will receive approximately $95 million, an estimated 47,000 households in Tompkins County will receive approximately $117 million, an estimated 22,000 households in Tioga County will receive $55 million, and an estimated 87,000 households in Broome County will receive $218 million.
  • More than $334 million in state and local funding directly for the Southern Tier – including over $16.19 million for Chemung County, over $19.82 million for Tompkins County, and over $36.94 million for Broom County.
  • More than $161.9 million for institutions of higher education located in the Southern Tier
  • Over $11.6 million for Southern Tier transit agencies and over $5.89 for Southern Tier airports

The Southern Tier 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