Petition update

Update: Save Philly Restaurants next steps

SavePhilly Restaurants
Philadelphia, PA, United States

Apr 23, 2020 — 

Thank you for your ongoing support of our restaurants. We are doing all we can to continue to serve you and/or to survive until you can come see us again--we miss you!! 

We wanted to let you know that we sent the below letters to our state and federal elected officials to ask them for the help we really need to have a chance of surviving this crisis for our country and city.  These are the requests that have developed since we launched the coalition and in response to recent legislation.

Please continue to share this, and if you are able, order delivery and takeout from your favorite local restaurants. 

Federal  (Sent to US Senators and Reps.) 

The SavePhillyRestaurants coalition is made up of more than 60 restaurateurs, with more than 170 restaurants of all shapes and sizes between us. We represent hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue and tens of thousands of jobs in Philadelphia, not to mention our residents’ favorite places to dine and celebrate, and a big part of what makes our beautiful city the country’s best place to live and visit.

We have come together to agree on our  top legislative priorities, and to work with elected officials to get them done. We realize all industries are hurting right now, but none has been as negatively impacted by the shutdown as the restaurant industry, and our employees are among the most vulnerable.

As terrible as this situation is now, one day soon it will be over. And when it is over, everyone is going to want people to go back to work, and businesses to reopen. What we are asking for today is going to make it much more likely that that will happen, restoring our beautiful city  to its former glory. 

While the CARES Act and the PPP was a huge achievement to help businesses, we continue to see flaws—that while unintended—are actually hurting our members. Without changes these acts will not provide the assistance that we believe Congress intended for the restaurant industry. Without major adjustments, many of our members report that they will either need to close permanently or not be able to continue operations to the extent that they had hoped, threatening their long term viability. 

We need your help to make the following changes immediately to help our industry survive and recover from this crisis

Provide Flexibility in Timing for the Industry to Use PPP Loans: The “covered period” of the PPP requires that businesses use the loan within roughly eight weeks of its origination. The assumption with the PPP was that restaurants would be fully reopened and operating by June 30th. While that may be true for some industries, it is not the case for the restaurant industry. The growing reality is that our industry will be nowhere near full operating capacity within that time. 
Allowing loans to be retained until a full reopening takes place will stabilize the businesses and ensure that millions of restaurant employees stay employed for the long term. 
Specifically, the outside rehire date should be changed to at least 90 days from when they are allowed to fully reopen, which would allow for a ramp-up period back to some kind of normal business cycle. 
Finally, the PPP should be extended through December 2020, with an adequate appropriation and an extended hiring window for restaurants to rehire full-time equivalent employees. 

However, If the relevant period is not extended beyond 8 weeks, we ask that any FTE reductions NOT trigger a proportionate reduction in forgiveness: 

We can NOT be expected to fully restaff our stores when revenue is 50%+ less than last year.  We are also facing stay at home orders, employee fears, and the extra $600/week in unemployment compensation that is making restaffing almost impossible during the 8 weeks. For example, if revenue is 40% of what it was during the same period last year, we should only be required to employ 40% of the FTEs during that period in order to avoid reduction in loan forgiveness. 
This would remove the guessing game of when things will get back to normal and only require stores to restaff commensurate with revenue - this ensures LONG TERM employment for individuals rather than mass hire followed by immediate layoffs. 

Ensure Loan Terms Match Congressional Intent: The legislative text of the PPP clearly allows loans to have up to a 10-year maturity date, yet post passage of the legislation, the Department of the Treasury mandated that loans have only a two-year term. Our industry has a very long, uncertain path to recovery by virtue of state-mandated closures and the long-term effects of social distancing. The terms should reflect the reality that recovery for the majority of us will take far longer than two years.

Revise Loan Restrictions in Light of Industry Realities: In order to achieve forgiveness, the Department of the Treasury mandated that 75% of the PPP loan must be spent on payroll. In an industry currently operating with skeleton staffs – if at all – this limits the benefit to our owners. Some operators spend as much as 50% of their monthly expenses on lease or mortgage obligations. This mandate must be altered to a lower percentage of no more than 50% spent on payroll. Because the measuring period ends on June 30th when many restaurants won’t even be open, this severely limits the benefits of the program to the restaurant industry.

Our industry is the hardest hit by this pandemic and we will not recover from it without your immediate assistance and recognition of our unique needs. We look forward to working with you to make the changes highlighted above and on additional steps that will need to be taken to ensure we can return to being the vibrant thriving industry we once were.

State (Sent to Gov. Wolf, state reps, state senators, Mayor Kenney) 

The SavePhillyRestaurants coalition is made up of more than 60 restaurateurs, with more than 170 restaurants between us. We represent hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue and tens of thousands of jobs in Philadelphia, not to mention our residents’ favorite places to dine and celebrate, and a big part of what makes our beautiful city the country’s best place to live and visit.

We have come together to agree on our  top legislative priorities, and to work with elected officials to get them done. We realize all industries are hurting right now, but none has been so affected by the shutdown as the restaurant industry, and our employees are among the most vulnerable.

As terrible as this situation is now, one day soon it will be over. And when it is over, everyone is going to want people to go back to work, and businesses to reopen. What we are asking for today is going to make it much more likely that that will happen, restoring our beautiful city  to its former glory. 

We need your help to make the following changes immediately to help our industry survive and recover from this crisis. Below we have outlined items that will help our businesses immediately and in the coming months as they try to rebound. We appreciate your support and action. 

PLCB Operations/Licensee Concerns

Our PLCB FIRST PRIORITY is to remove limitations on takeout liquor sales and allow us to deliver beer/wine/cocktails without additional permitting while the stay at home is in effect
Open licensee service centers/stores so licensees can order and pick up product while complying with social distancing protocols.
Provide a grace period of 90 day for any licenses coming up for renewal during this to allow licensees to preserve cashflow during the reopening process.
Tax Items

Create a sales tax holiday for restaurant food to put restaurants on an equal footing with grocery stores and encourage consumer spending, until the stay at home orders are lifted and dining rooms can reopen. 
Delay sales tax remittance for three months after the crisis to allow businesses to maintain cash flow.
Support a delay in remittance of liquor taxes in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties.

Unemployment Compensation

Create a process that encourages employees that are currently receiving the $600 additional pay per week from the CARES Act to return to work when businesses are able to rehire, such as allowing them to collect the $600 even if they are rehired so that this isn't an impediment to hiring. 
Expand “relief of charges” for a full year. Our businesses will not be fully operational when the State of Emergency is lifted; therefore, we should not be punished with an additional financial burden for not being able to hire everyone back. This extension allows time to become fully operational.

Rent/Evictions: 

Support legislation that would prevent evictions for businesses that lease property for 90 days;   
Ensure default interest rates and late fees are not assessed for non-payment; 
Prevent landlords from claiming a company is in default when the crisis is over, by providing a fair and reasonable time period for tenants to catch up on rent, such as 12 - 24 months. 
Business Interruption Insurance: During this pandemic, we have seen all manner of companies/individuals/coalitions step up and help others. Unfortunately, insurance companies have hid behind a “virus” clause and provided no financial stability to businesses that were forced to shut down during this crisis.

Develop a process that allows some kind of pay out to businesses that purchased ‘business interruption’ insurance through insurance companies. Encourage federal and state funding for the insurance industry so valid business interruption claims can be paid and insurance companies be required to stand behind business insurance coverage. 
We believe that by acting on the above recommendations our businesses will have a better chance of overcoming this crisis that has devastated our industry. We are not asking for a bailout. We are asking for the time, tools, and financial assistance we will need to recover, which ultimately benefits all stakeholders in the health of our city. 

Sincerely, 

Save Philly Restaurants coalition

 


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