(NewsNation Now) — Restaurants struggling with the pandemic were given a bit of new life when vaccines became available and COVID-19 cases dropped, but with the recent surge in omicron cases, many are fighting foreclosure again.
Data from a survey by the National Restaurant Association shows that 88% of restaurants have seen a decline in customers since the highly transmissible omicron variant emerged
However, for many restaurant owners struggling to pay their bills, it’s not only the surge impacting their business. It’s a domino effect of pain: government shutdown, not being able to have in-person dining, restrictions once restaurants resume in-person dining. And then the fact that this wave of COVID-19 has struck their staff so many times and the issue of hiring during the so-called Great Resignation.
Surviving week to week is typical for Dave Edgar, who owns Sam’s Family Diner in Northwest Arkansas. But the last 22 months have been a roller-coaster, as prices for goods continue to soar and staff shortages remain an issue.
“Truly, I literally had to go to the bank and say, “Hey, we have some checks coming through for our employees, and I don’t think they’re going to make it; they’re not going to clear,'” Edgar said. “We’re at the point now where we’re beyond our credit terms, beyond the 30 days. I’m going to have to start washing my own linens.”
These struggles led the National Restaurant Association to rally, asking Congress for a second round of restaurant revitalization funds.
“Based upon our internal estimates, if the fund was replenished, it could save 1.6 million restaurant jobs — that’s huge,” said Mike Whatley of the National Restaurant Association. “Pre-pandemic, restaurants were the second-largest private-sector employer. So it’s important for restaurants, but it’s also key to the entire economy.”
The National Restaurant Association’s survey also found that half of the businesses that did not receive cash from the government believe they will be closed before the end of the pandemic.
“Restaurant owners are overtired, and the virus keeps on throwing us new curveballs. We need Congress to act now,” Whatley said.
“If I have that money, I could get it and pay off my vendors and kind of have a fresh start,” Edgar said.
The National Restaurant Association has sent 50,000 emails to Congress; they are asking for both businesses and customers as well to get in on this, asking their politicians to help out.