DALLAS - Texas restaurants are asking for billions of dollars in federal funding to help businesses still struggling with labor shortages and rising costs.
The Texas Restaurant Association is making a plea to Congress to replenish the restaurant revitalization fund so restaurants can stay in business.
The TRA says more than 12,00 restaurants applied for federal help, but funds ran out before they could get that help. They’re asking Congress to help keep businesses afloat.
Though restaurant doors are open and customers are coming back to the table, businesses say they are still struggling two years into the pandemic.
The TRA says more than 90% of their members are experiencing higher food costs and supply chain issues, and nearly 80% don’t have the staff needed to meet customer demand.
FILE - Restaurant storefront has a "Help Wanted" sign in the window on July 15, 2021, in Long Island, New York. (Photo by Chris Ware/Newsday RM via Getty Images)
"The pandemic has brought us all to our knees," said Tracy Vaught, owner of the H-Town Restaurant Group in Houston. "If I hear the word pivot one more time I’m going to spit nails at somebody. We’ve had to make so many adaptations to accommodate and stay in business.
The TRA is asking for $50 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to help thousands of restaurants that applied for federal funding and never got help before the funds ran out. More than 12,000 restaurants in Texas alone fall into that category.
"This is not the restaurants coming back again. This is really about finishing the job that they already started and made a commitment to one of the most important industries in this entire country," said Emily Williams Knight, CEO of the TRA.
SMU Economics Professor Mike Davis says while it may take time for the labor supply and supply chain to bounce back, there won’t be a shortage like this forever.
"We don't have any reason to believe that this is the new normal," I mean, sooner or later, people are going to have to go back to work sooner or later. Wages in these industries are going to adjust to make that work attractive."
The TRA says they need at least ten Republican senators to sign on to commit these federal dollars for restaurant help, but they say they need both sides of the aisle to work together on this issue.