December 11, 2020

Duckworth Hosts Virtual Town Hall with Illinois Restaurant Industry Leaders


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) held a virtual town hall with Illinois restaurateurs and Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) members today to discuss the challenges facing the restaurant industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Duckworth was joined by IRA President Sam Toia, IRA Board Chairman and Burrito Beach CEO Greg Schulson, Frontera Restaurant Group Owner Rick Bayless, Samco Enterprises CEO Sam Sanchez, Obed & Isaacs Owner Karen Conn and Virtue Owner and Executive Chef Erick Williams. 

“Restaurants are more than just a place to eat, they’re the glue that holds communities together,” Duckworth said. “For every restaurant that closes, every job that’s lost, our communities suffer. As the pandemic continues to surge throughout the winter, we know that business can’t just go on as usual and we need to bring federal aid to the restaurant industry as soon as possible.”

“The restaurant industry nationwide is at its breaking point. 110,000 restaurants have closed due to COVID-19, and two million foodservice employees are still out of work,” Toia said. “Without immediate federal relief, Illinois restaurants – which are currently shut down for indoor service – simply will not be able to sustain their businesses through the winter. We appreciate Senator Duckworth's ongoing efforts to provide support for the restaurant community when we need it most.”

Duckworth is a co-sponsor of the RESTAURANTS Act, legislation that would create a $120 Billion restaurant revitalization fund to provide financial assistance to restaurants and bars that have been affected by the economic impact of COVID-19. She has also called for the legislation to be included in an upcoming COVID-19 relief bill. According to a National Restaurant Association survey, more than half of Illinois restaurants say they will have to permanently close within six months without more federal relief. Nationwide, 17 percent of restaurants – more than 100,000 establishments – are closed permanently or long term. Duckworth last met with IRA members in June to discuss the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act and relief needed in the restaurant industry.