Eyewitness News 3
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - The National Restaurant Association is calling for Congress to renew federal funds created to help restaurants and bars struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.Officials in Connecticut have sounded the alarm and said they are barely holding on.
“We are working hard to stay open and like the only word I can think of why we are still here is love,” said Dino Cialfi, owner of Peppercorn’s Grill in Hartford. “Lots of love. From customers and us giving back and forth.”
Peppercorn’s Grill has been feeding Hartford for three decades. The Italian restaurant said COVID is its biggest battle yet.
“I won’t go down without a big, big fight,” Cialfi said.
Cialfi said the business was hoping to get money from the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund that was made available in 2021.
“We got on that computer the moment it opened, and we were bumped off for both restaurants because they had run out of funds that quickly,” he said.
According to a new survey released this week by the National Restaurant Association, 50 percent of restaurants that did not receive RRF grants said it was unlikely they would stay in business beyond the pandemic without a grant.
“On the surface, it was great,” said Scott Dolch, president and CEO of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. “Sixteen hundred Connecticut restaurants got funding for losses and that’s the good side. About $300 million. But the problem was over 2,000 were eligible and got nothing. The federal government has to finish the job and help those 2,000.”
The Connecticut Restaurant Association said that state funding is still available for businesses, but distributing those funds is not simple.
“I think the challenge right now is that the money lies within the cities and towns and we have to think of creative ways that the cities and towns are using their American Rescue Plan dollars to help our industry,” Dolch said.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association said unless Congress approves funds, hundreds of restaurants could close their doors in the next couple of weeks.