It took one night into quarantine to make me realize the magnitude of how the restaurant industry will be hit by the pandemic. As someone who values the dining experience for more than just a meal, the communal aspect and direct connection you get to make with whoever you’re dining with has always been the crux of the joy I find in it. However, the advent of dine-in restrictions due to the scourge that has been COVID-19 has forced many a restaurant’s hands into business pivots, layoffs, or sadly, closures altogether.
That’s why seeing grassroots efforts and local movements, however large or small, popping up to support restaurants in dire need have been a welcome source of encouragement and hope. All forms of charity have fortified a sense of community these days, from meal donations for frontline and essential workers to crowdfunded campaigns to merchandise that donates proceeds to said restaurants.
Since the restaurant industry has been left reeling, The Paycheck Protection Program, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, was created with the intention to provide financial assistance for small business owners who are struggling to stay in business due to the pandemic. However, what was intended available for small business and restaurants has ended up in the hands of larger corporations in disproportionate numbers. More unfortunately, a recent survey reveals a disappointing figure that shows black and Latino businesses have been widely overlooked by the PPP and other programs.
“The survey, conducted by the Global Strategy Group for two equal-rights organizations, Color of Change and UnidosUS, included interviews with 500 business owners and 1,200 workers from April 30 to last Monday. Just 12 percent of the owners who applied for aid from the Small Business Administration — most of them seeking loans in the $650 billion paycheck program — reported receiving what they had asked for, while 26 percent said they had received only a fraction of what they had requested. Nearly half of all owners said they anticipated having to permanently close in the next six months.”
A sizable population of colored business owners and employees are among the ranks of the restaurant industry. Knowing that many of them are unable to rely on government protection programs while already trying to navigate the success of their business during such precarious times is wholly unacceptable, alarming, and frustrating.
Mentioned earlier were the efforts of certain restaurant merchandise programs to keep businesses afloat, which has been a two-pronged approach to helping all parties affected. Keeping that same energy, Foodbeast has just debuted a line of merchandise dubbed the Foodbeast Restaurant Protection Agency. This fresh line of graphic tees was created with your favorite restaurants in mind. That’s because with every purchase from any of the collection’s six t-shirts, $10.00 will be donated directly to your favorite restaurant’s Venmo or Paypal account. This streamlined donation approach allows for a wider network of restaurants to be helped out in some way, while also giving fans the opportunity to show appreciation to their go-to spots that have held them down with a good meal throughout the years.