Food drive in Fort Worth provided food for hospitality workers as restaurants deal with uncertain future

It's been a roller coaster ride for restaurant owners.

First, dining rooms were shut down, and now seating capacity is limited.

Industry leaders have said an aid package needs to be passed soon or many restaurants will close.

Friday was a busy day at the Sheraton Hotel in Fort Worth, but it wasn’t all customers driving up to the entrance. It was laid-off hospitality workers picking up free food.

“This is something we've never had to deal with before. It's a learning experience, I guess. Each day, we just kind of figure it out,” Sandra Burns said.

Burns lost her job in the service industry recently due to the pandemic.

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The Hotel Association of Tarrant County hosted Friday's drive-up food distribution event. Care packages were made for a thousand people.

The executive director said 90-95 percent of hotel workers in Tarrant County have been laid-off, many of them worked in restaurants.

“Every person who have come through here today says they can't wait to come back. We’d rather be working than staying at home,” Julie Faver Dylla said.

A well-known Texas chef and restaurant owner warns plenty more could soon follow.

“We employ 11 million people that are going to be unemployed by the end of the month if we don't get this bill passed,” Tim Love said.

Love is fighting to help his struggling industry survive.

He was part of a White House meeting in May with President Trump on future relief efforts.

And more recently, he was on a call between Texas restaurateurs and Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, hoping to pass a $120 billion restaurant revitalization fund.

“We're not making any money and that's not what it's about right now, it's survival,” Love added.

Love said Paycheck Protection Program loans help keep some staff off unemployment, but added that restaurant owners need money to be able to pay their bills and keep their doors open for business.

Love said continuing to operate at 50 percent capacity isn't sustainable.

“When your restaurants around you start closing, it isn't just the restaurant and the 20 or so employees that restaurant has, it's also shutting down the supplies,” Love explained.

He's referring to people like farmers, ranchers, valet workers, even the linen and box suppliers.

All are affected when a restaurant shuts down.

Love is urging folks to contact their senators and ask that the Restaurants Act be passed.

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