Local restaurants pushing Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as COVID spreads

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Posted at 6:46 AM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 06:50:57-05

(WXYZ) — People are scared to go out to public places because the risk of getting COVID-19 is so high right now and this is putting restaurant and bar owners in a tough spot.

Some are asking for a lifeline.

At Ivy kitchen and Cocktails in Detroit, there was a steady growth in business in 2021 until the Omicron variant hit. Now, it's a new year and owner Nya Marshall is worried about her livelihood.

“It seems like when you start to begin to get out of the weeds with one issue, another major issue or catastrophe occurs,” she said.

When lockdown orders went into effect in 2020, Marshall turned to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund for help.

That is not an option at the moment.

“I did receive the funding," Marshall said. "It is the reason that we’re still standing right now.”

According to the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, roughly two-thirds of Michigan businesses who applied got nothing. That includes businesses like Checker Bar and Grand Trunk Pub, in downtown Detroit.

“How a lot of these small businesses and these restaurants have survived this far is sometimes beyond me,” owner Tim Tharp said.

Now he and other industry leaders are asking for congress to bring the financial help back.

“Helping restaurants and this kind of thing can’t be put on the back burner," Congressman Andy Levin said. "I mean we have to push this through.”

Congressman Levin is one of the cosponsors of a bipartisan bill that would refund the program with $60 billion. Although it was introduced back in June, it's still not getting any traction.

Restaurant owners like Marshall who already got the assistance in the past are hoping their funds will be replenished. She says without the extra money her business may not make it.