Secure Relief for Hospitality Workers in North Carolina

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Attention Governor Roy Cooper 

The swift onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has created difficulty for all North Carolinians, including you and your leadership team as you shoulder the burden of life or death decisions.  We, as business owners across North Carolina, are asking for your consideration, as we are now looking at the possible death of our restaurants. This plea is not the result of complacency, self-indulgence, or selfishness, but rather the real fear for the well-being of our employees and ourselves well beyond the time this crisis is over. 

Workers in the hospitality industry comprise roughly 13% of North Carolina's entire workforce, and generate $23 BILLION in gross revenue on an annual basis.  According to the National Restaurant Association, 63% of consumers say they would prefer to spend money on an experience, such as dining in a restaurant, rather than purchasing an item from a store.  Our state tourism numbers will plummet without some assistance to the hospitality industry. Many operators will be facing bankruptcy in 30 days. Your actions can have a real impact. We truly need your advocacy. 

Please understand that some of our employees are more impacted than others.  Many in our industry work multiple jobs to support their families. Under current unemployment regulations, such multi-job workers do not qualify for compensation. Without a change in the rules, these previously productive taxpayers will become dependent on the state.  We need your intervention to prevent imminent demise of the food, beverage, and lodging industry. Losing this sector will be detrimental to the State and its economy, and will take years to fully recover. There must be a definitive and immediate plan put in place to ensure the continued livelihood of the biggest occupational group in this State. 

 

WE ASK FOR THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE:

  1. Let us immediately reopen our businesses!  Let’s work together to create restrictions that allow restaurants to remain open, not ones that shut us down.  We will gladly abide by health regulations such as alternating tables, running at half capacity, and anything else recommended for social distancing. 
  2. In the event you are forced to shut down the entire State, please include staff of restaurants under the designation of “essential workers”, qualifying under the “provision of food and other essential goods”. This would allow us to still provide take out service to our patrons, distribute meals for house-bound individuals, provide food for local pantries, and even feed members of the community who are food insecure.
  3. Modify the State unemployment compensation rules to allow our staff complete compensation for wages lost as a result of your order.  You mandated expedited payments for an entitlement that was already in effect. Denial of unemployment compensation due to other part time work puts some of our employees below the poverty line, causing them to be unable to pay for basic living expenses, and possibly facing eviction.
  4. Reduce our liquor license fees to zero. Licenses are due for renewal by the end of March.  Alcohol sales make up a significant portion of our revenue, which has been completely eliminated by your order. 
  5. Work with the insurance industry to allow your order to qualify for “business interruption” coverage.  Most business interruption policies provide coverage for a government ordered shut down only when there is also direct physical damage to tangible property.  The coverage should be expanded in this situation, as your order forced everyone to close in order to limit the community spread of the virus. 
  6. Work with the financial services industry to encourage them to defer business related loan payments for at least 30 days, if not more, without penalty.  This deferral should include landlords as well as tenants, who are both under strain from this order.
  7. Provide financial assistance directly to actual operators (i.e. business or franchise owners) to cover ongoing fixed costs. Your order became effective just as we were coming out of our slowest revenue season and has shut us down during our busiest season.  The bills for our fixed expenses will keep coming every month. None of us can afford to take on additional loans on top of our normal ongoing expenses when we have no revenue. We all hope that the COVID-19 infection rate will decline, allowing us to reopen in two weeks.  But it will take months to recover from the shutdown of our normal operations, however brief. This setback will ripple through the entire state’s tourism industry, resulting in bankruptcies and unrecoverable lost income.
  8. Defer tax payments and waive penalties and interest at the state level on any money we remove from savings and retirement plans used to directly support our businesses, and call on the federal government to do the same.  Some of us intend to cash out our retirement savings to salvage our businesses. As the law stands, we will be required to pay tax on those withdrawals as well as incur a 10% penalty.
  9. Forgive or defer sales tax payments.  This would supplement our industry immediately!
  10. Forgive payroll matching, grant filing date extensions, or at the very least promise zero penalty and interest for payroll tax payments.  We need your assistance. We have obligations to the state and federal government and basically zero income.
     

Governor Cooper,  we respect and understand your difficult position.  However, we also stress the importance of thinking long term.  Hospitality and tourism need to return to normal as swiftly as possible.  What we are asking for is reasonable, and assures our ability to rehire. PLEASE deliver meaningful compensation and relief for our employees and for us as business owners.  You have the opportunity to make sure our workforce actually has jobs to return to! 

 

Thank you for your kind consideration,

North Carolina's Hospitality Industry

 

Moore County Restaurant Workers Association

Mark Elliott & Kelly Elliott, Owners, Elliotts on Linden

Kevin Drum, Owner, Drum & Quill 

Danny Hayes, Owner & Chef, The House of Fish

Warren Lewis, Owner & Chef, Chef Warren’s

Ian Drake, Manager, The Sly Fox Pub

Cara Edwards, Manager, Elliotts on Linden

Martin Brunner, Owner, The Bakehouse

Stan Herman, Landlord in Southern Pines

Milton Pilson & Anna Pilson, Owners, Restaurant 195

Brittany Lane, Chef, Chef Warren’s 

Marva Kirk, Owner, Kirk Tours & Limousine 

Morgan Hawk, Director Emeritus, Elliotts Catering Co.

Betsy Simon, Chef, Elliotts Catering Co.

Beth Goodwin, Accountant, Medium Rare Inc.

Hannah Hill, Marketing Specialist, Medium Rare Inc.

Jim Reale, Owner, Lisi Italian

Leslie Philip, Owner, Thyme and Place Café

William Dill & Stephanie Dill, Chef, The Sly Fox Pub

Curt Shelvey, Owner, Curt’s Cucina

Ishmael Evans, Employee, Elliotts Catering Co.

Coley Keel, Owner, The Villager Deli 

Alan Riley, Owner, Dugan’s Pub 

Joan Berlangero, Manager, Elliotts Provisions Co.

Carol Hess, Manager, The Roast Office

Raymond Martin, Chef, Elliotts on Linden

Orlando Ricardo Jinzo & Sonja Lee McCarrell, Owners, The Leadmine

Nathan Continenza, Owner, Ironwood

Jess Sheppard, The Running Fork Personal Chef Services

Oresti Arsi & Brittany Ireland Arsi, Owners, Meat and Greek Eatery and Market

Danielle Forman Williams, Bartender, Elliotts on Linden

Logan McGeoch, Employee, Elliotts Provisions Co.

Chris Abbey & Angela Sanchez, Owners, Southern Whey

Lorraine Williams, Owner, Nosh the Deli

Anthony Parks & Dixie Parks, Owner, The Ice Cream Parlor Restaurant

Kitty Watkins, Owner, Chapmans

Isaac Kundinger, Owner, Conscious Cultivators LLC

Fiona J McKenzie, Department Chair, Professor, Culinary Coordinator Culinary and Pastry Arts at Sandhills Community College

Nick Tone, Employee, Curt’s Cucina

Ashley Van Camp, Owner, Ashten’s Restaurant & Ashten’s A’field

Elise Zawatteri, Director, Elliotts Catering Co.

Scott Wolcott & Patti Wolcott, Owners, Wolcott’s, FishCo.

Aisha Morris, Chef, Mason’s Inn

Jamie Beck, Chef De Cuisine, Service Manager, Fairwoods No. 7

Polly Willett & David Fowler, Owners, Fowler’s Southern Gourmet

Sue Stovall, Owner, Paradox Farm Creamery

Jillina Mac, Chef, Elliotts on Linden

Stephen Fore, Owner, What’s Fore Lunch

Rae Anne Kinney, Owner, Pine Scone Cafe

Shannon C. Butler, Manager, Pine Scone Cafe 

Michael Carey, Owner, Hatchet Brewing Company 

Nathan Hussey, Chef, Elliotts On Linden 

Jordan Ervin, Beverage Manager, Elliotts On Linden 

Andrew Meade, Chef, Elliotts On Linden 

Ashlyn Dent, Employee, Elliotts Provisions Co.

Ben Weathersby, Sommelier 

Matthew Williams, Beverage Manager, Maxie’s Grill & Taproom

Houston Verbeck, Employee, Curt’s Cucina

Sammy Martin, Bartender, Pinecrest Inn

Alison Hainley & Brian Hainley,Owners, Mason’s Restaurant & Grocery