Fulton Market restaurants call for more federal dollars

CHICAGO (WLS) -- January is already tough in the restaurant industry, and some Chicago restaurants are saying more help from the federal government is urgently needed.

"Restaurants that didn't get grants, these restaurants are on the brink of closing now," said Roger Romanelli, Chicago Restaurants Coalition and US Restaurants Coalution.


"There are so many wonderful communities where all you might have is a McDonald's. What happened to the neighborhood restaurant?" said Anthony Waller, Catering Out the Box.

Monday, several local restauranteurs urged congress and President Joe Biden to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. They said restaurants have followed federal and local government COVID guidance to keep the public safe, and now the businesses that didn't get help in the first round may not make it.

And for these business owners, it's personal: staff that has been with them for years depend on income from the restaurant.

"You have all of these employees, general managers, who don't work for tips," said Len DeFranco, Hawkeye's Bar & Grill. "You have the service people who do work for tips, and these people are being asked to sacrifice not directly but indirectly."

"I'm not looking for a vacation, I'm looking to keep the staff together and continue business," said Joel Nickson, Wishbone Restaurant.


A spokesman for Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said he spoke in support of adding more funds, but Republicans on objected.

"Senator Durbin believes restaurants are the lifeblood of our communities. When they struggle, our cities struggle. Congress needs to do its part to give them a helping hand as we continue to deal with this pandemic," a spokesman said in a statement.

"I fully support replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and I'll keep working to help ensure these small businesses continue to get the federal support they need as soon as possible," said Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth in a statement.

The restaurant coalition is urging action by February 11.
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