Response to Philadelphia's Safer at Home edict from Save Philly Restaurants
Nov 17, 2020 —
November 17, 2020
An Open Letter from the Save Philly Restaurants Coalition
to our Elected Leaders at the City, State, and Federal Level
Save Philly Restaurants is a coalition representing over 250 restaurants and bars in the Philadelphia area that account for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, tens of thousands of jobs, and are a major draw for locals and visitors alike.
We have joined together during the Covid-19 Pandemic to fight for our industry, our customers, and the livelihoods and well-being of our staff and vendors, and to prevent more of our fellow business owners from closing their doors for good because of the unique and crushing challenges presented by this time. We believe we can effectively protect the public in our venues, while preserving the essential restaurant industry in Philadelphia.
We recognize the gravity of the situation and take our responsibility very seriously, as essential businesses who are feeding the public and providing jobs. We support the CDC guidelines, and we realize the most important thing for our health and economy is to get this virus under control until we have a national strategy, and we all have a vaccine.
However, we are outraged that we are still in this precarious place more than 8 months in, and that the cases in the US outpace anywhere else in the world. We have seen so many of our friends in the industry go out of business, and so many of our treasured teams and friends lose their jobs. We desperately want to prevent a new round of layoffs and furloughs.
Have no doubt: We are going to see a far worse wave of business closures this winter than we have seen so far, because we have used all of our resources to get through the spring and summer and new challenges abound. As the cases continue to grow, and the weather grows colder, we fear for our businesses’ survival.
We do not agree with some of the new directives in the “Safer at Home” edict released by city leaders, and we urge them to reconsider and to work in partnership with us on future directives.
The new edict includes a total ban on indoor dining and limits outdoor dining to 4 members of the same household. There is ample evidence that current Covid-19 policies – 50% indoor capacity, social distancing, masks and face shields worn by staff members, and encouragement of outdoor dining—have all been extremely effective in controlling virus transmission, while providing essential food and services to the public.
With current Covid restrictions in place, there have not been any documented mass restaurant staff infection events. If restaurants were in fact “hot spots” and to blame for the recent surge, restaurant EMPLOYEES would have been affected first and gotten sick en masse, before guests. That simply has not happened.
With the new restrictions, we feel we are being unfairly and unnecessarily penalized, when we have taken such care and spent so much money to keep our staff and customers safe, and have seen how effective these measures can be. In fact, these restrictions will most likely have the unintended effect of encouraging informal gatherings, which have been shown to be riskier to public health.
Rather, here is what we believe we need most to survive.
1) First, we demand a seat at the table when decisions that affect our restaurants, our customers, and our staff are made, so they can be well informed by our research and experience on the ground. For example, we do not believe the outdoor dining restrictions are entirely logical. We have learned how to do outdoor dining safely for small parties. If customers cannot visit our restaurants, groups are far more likely to gather in private homes, and the general public is not well trained in how to do so safely. Had we been at the negotiating table, we could have shared our experience and data to inform these and any future recommendations.
2) We desperately and urgently need more federal aid. The CARES Act and the PPP were a lifeline for small businesses and helped many of them get through the summer. We need Congress to act immediately by passing The RESTAURANTS Act, by creating a new PPP loan, or by similarly expediting aid to the many millions of small businesses that will not be able to survive much or any longer during a lengthy partial shutdown, with a fraction of their revenue. Their failure to do so will have a chilling ripple effect on their employees and throughout the US economy.
3) We need access to free, easily accessible testing. The key to getting this virus under control and still keeping our businesses open is free or subsidized rapid Covid testing for businesses. It is extremely challenging and very expensive to get tests when we do have a virus scare at any of our restaurants. Yet, we know this approach works because we can isolate the problem quickly before others are infected, and get back to business. Making testing affordable and accessible will protect the public and allow businesses to stay open safely.
4) We need Pennsylvania to provide grants or tax credits for investments we are making during a time that most of us are operating at a loss, to build safe outdoor structures, install partitions, buy PPE for staff, and buy equipment that improves indoor air quality.
The restaurant industry in Philadelphia is “essential” in every way. We all need food and sustenance to survive. We all need an outlet to safely eat together in a small group, to maintain our mental health this winter. With mandated mask wearing, social distancing, existing capacity limitations, and the installation of proper air quality equipment, restaurants in Philadelphia can safely provide the outdoor and indoor dining options that Philadelphia citizens want, while keeping thousands of restaurant employees working, and able to pay their own living expenses.
We look forward to hearing from you about how we can work together to save our restaurants and bars, so they will still be here in 2021.
Jonathan Adams, Co-Founder, Rival Bros Coffee
George Anni, Owner, Butcher Bar, Valanni, Mercato, Varga bar
Joseph Baldino, Owner Palizzi Social
Paul Ballard, Member/Owner, idEATion Hospitality/Garces
Stephen Ballard, Member/Owner, idEATion Hospitality/Garces
Scott Ballard, Member/Owner, idEATion Hospitality/Garces
J Nathan Bazzel, Owner, Woody's Bar
Christopher Barnes, Managing Partner, Lucky's Last Chance
Jeff Benjamin, Co-Owner, Vetri Cucina/Fiorella
Matt Bucher, Director of Talent Acquisition, STARR Restaurants
Robert & Benjamin, Bynum Owners, Warmdaddy's, SOUTH Jazz Kitchen, Green Soul & Relish
Fergus Carey, Owner, Fergie’s Pub, Grace Tavern, The Fairview, The Goat
Todd Carmichael, CEO and Co-Founder, La Colombe Coffee Roasters
Jennifer Carroll, Chef/Owner, Spice Finch
Mike Cassano, CEO, The Couch Tomato Restaurant Group
Randall Cook, Co-Owner, Wm. Mulherin's Sons, Hiroki
Steve Cook, Co-Owner, CookNSolo Restaurants (Zahav, Federal Donuts, Dizengoff, Abe Fisher, Goldie, K'Far, Merkaz, Laser Wolf)
Scott Coudriet, Owner, Lloyd whiskey bar
Sean Coyle, Owner, Goat's Beard
Jimmy Daku, Owner, Bellini Grill Restaurant
Shawn Darragh, Co-Owner, Cheu Noodle bar, Bing Bing Dim Sum, Cheu Fishtown & nunu
Rob DiSantis, Owner, Graham’s Pub
Greg Dodge, Owner, Zavino Hospitaly Group, Zavino & Tredici Enoteca
Nicholas Elmi, Owner/Chef, Laurel, ITV, Royal Boucherie
Rich Ennis, Owner, The Rook Manayunk
Jason Evenchik, Owner, The Vintage Syndicate (Time, Bar, Garage, Vintage, etc.)
Ben Fileccia, Director of Operations and Strategy, Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association
Dave Goldman, co-owner, Landmark Americana (2 locations) and Urban Village Brewing Company
Tom Henneman, CEO and Co-Founder, Federal Donuts
Avram Hornik Owner, FCM Hospitality: Morgan's Pier, dolphin tavern, Harper's garden, rosys taco bar, crafthall, concourse dance bar, parks on tap, mainstay brewery, lost bread co.
Owen Kamihira, Owner, El Camino Real
Jim Kirk and Jake Hampson co-owners Kite & Key
David L, Owner, La Roca
Dean Leevongcharoen, Owner, Ramen Bar
Peter Leontaras, Owner, Xochitl
Robert Levin, Owner, Ashton Cigar Bar
Tim Lu, CEO , GLU Hospitality: Leda & the Swan, Vesper Sports Club, Vesper Dayclub, Germantown Garden, Anejo, Set PHL
Justine MacNeil and Ed Crochet, co-owners, Fiore Fine Foods
Dave Marks, General manager, Ashton Cigar Bar
Nicole Marquis, Founder and CEO, HipCityVeg, Charlie was a sinner., Bar Bombón
David Maser, Member/Owner, idEATion Hospitality/ Garces
LuLu Maynard, Owner, Grace Tavern
Daniel McLaughlin, Owner, Mission Taqueria
Jeff Michaud, Owners, Osteria, Giuseppe & Sons, Via Locusta, La Via Gaia
Bill and Emilio Mignucci, Owners , Di Bruno Bros, Alimentari restaurant
Sam Mink, Owner, Oyster House/Mission Taqueria
Jon Myerow, Founder and CEO Tria Rittenhouse, Tria Wash West, Tria Taproom
Aimee Olexy, Owner, Talula's Table
Casey Parker, Owner, Jose Pistolas, Sancho Pistola’s, Pistolas Del Sur
Michael Pasquarello, Owner, 13th street kitchens, KQ burger, Kensington Quarters, Café Lift, Prohibition Taproom
Tom Peters, Owner Monk's Café
David Robkin, Board Member , Starr Restaurants
Paris Rose, Sales & Banquet Manager, Manayunk Brewery
Justin Rosenberg, Founder and CEO, Honeygrow
Randy Rucker, Owner, River Twice
Valerie Safran, Owner, Safran Turney Hospitality (Barbuzzo, Little Nonna's, Bud & Marilyn's, Jamonera, Lolita
Lindsey Scannapieco, Owner, Irwin's, Bok Bar
Michael and Nina Schulson, Owners, Schulson Collective: Via Locusta, Alpen Rose, Giuseppe and Sons, Harp & Crown, Double Knot, Independence Beer Garden, Sampan, Graffiti Bar, Osteria, DK Sushi, Schulson Catering
David Simms, Founder, Eatible delights catering
Teddy Sourias, Owner, Craft Concepts Group: Bru craft and wurst, Finn McCools, Ubahn, Uptown Beer Garden, Midtown, Blume, Tradesmans, Tinsel pop up
Michel Toro, Owner, Vista Peru, El Balconito I & II
Mike Treon, Owner, Roy-Pitz Brewing Company
George and Vasiliki Tsiouris, Co-Owners, Opa, Drury Beer Garden and Craftsman Row Saloon
Marcie Turney, Owner, Safran Turney Hospitality (Barbuzzo, Little Nonna's, Bud&Marilyn's, Jamonera, Lolita
Victoria Tyson, owner, Victoria’s Kitchen
Stavros Vailiadis, owner, Bodega Taco Bar
Greg and Julie Vernick, Owners, Vernick Food & Drink; Vernick Fish; Vernick Coffee Bar; Vernick Wine
Marc Vetri, Chef/co-owner, Vetri Cucina and Fiorella
Erin Wallace, Owner, devils den
Rob Wasserman, Owner, Rouge, Twenty Manning, Audrey Claire
Townsend Wentz, Owner, Townsend, A Mano, Oloroso, Townsend Wine Bar
Chad Williams, Owner, FriSatSun
Peter Woolsey, Founder and CEO, Bistrot La Minette, La Peg, Gabi
Ellen Yin, Owner, Fork, High Street on Market, High Street Provisions, High Street Hospitality Group (a.kitchen + bar)
Keep fighting for people power!
Politicians and rich CEOs shouldn't make all the decisions. Today we ask you to help keep Change.org free and independent. Our job as a public benefit company is to help petitions like this one fight back and get heard. If everyone who saw this chipped in monthly we'd secure Change.org's future today. Help us hold the powerful to account. Can you spare a minute to become a member today?I'll power Change with $5 monthly