But despite dutifully and gladly serving friends, neighbors, and communities, all is not well for the “Friendliest Place in Town.”
Many bars and taverns face considerable challenges as they navigate the road to pre-pandemic business levels including rampant inflation, job shortages, and supply chain disruptions. These obstacles to growth are in addition to paying back loans and debt taken on just to keep their businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 90,000 restaurants and bars closing during the pandemic, and thousands more on the precipice of shuttering their doors for good, there’s little time left to preserve such an important sector of the American economy.
“From March 2020 through March 2021, bar and restaurant sales of beer, wine and spirits declined by $90 billion,” ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. “The level of loss was catastrophic for many small, single-unit operators who still find themselves financially digging out in the face of heightening inflation, supply chain challenges and labor shortages that show no sign of waning.”
That’s why “America’s Beer, Wine and Spirits Retailers” are calling on Congress to pass legislation that would allocate funds to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and meet the needs of hard-hit hospitality businesses that applied for federal relief over a year ago. Only one-third of businesses that applied received relief before the $28.6 billion fund was depleted.
This April, the House of Representatives passed the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 (H.R. 3807), which would allocate $42 billion for the RRF. Now, the Senate must do its part by passing a relief measure. By doing so, Congress will be investing in American small businesses owners through a proven Small Business Administration program that has already succeeded in keeping over 100,000 bars and restaurants open.
“Supporting and celebrating America’s bars and taverns this May means getting them the resources they need to remain some of America’s last Main Street businesses,” said Bodnovich. “Hopefully, the worst of COVID-19 is behind us, but its negative impact lingers for tens of thousands of small businesses left behind when federal relief funds ran dry in 2021. Beverage licensees are asking Congress to finish the job it started last year.”
This May, join ABL and state associations representing bars and taverns in supporting hospitality businesses as they fight to keep serving their communities. Congress needs to know that the great American traditions of conviviality and hospitality are at stake, and there’s no better place to continue those than at a local tavern, the Friendliest Place in Town.