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INDIANAPOLIS — Local restaurants are joining in on a national movement calling on Congress to pass a larger relief bill for restaurants.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition, a national group of chefs and restaurant owners, wrote a letter to Congress asking for $120 billion in relief to be given to the restaurant industry through a bill called The RESTAURANT Act.

“Up to 85% of restaurants like ours may not be able to survive another round of shutdowns during this pandemic, leaving over 16 million people and their families employed by our industry uncertain about their futures this holiday season,” the letter reads.

Martha Hoover is the founder and president of Patachou Inc, a locally owned and operated restaurant group with nearly a dozen locations across Indianapolis and Carmel. Hoover considers herself an advocate of the IRC’s proposed bill – calling it a lifeline for thousands of businesses. 

“The restaurant industry has been singled out and it’s really impossible for people in the restaurant industry to operate profitably,” said Hoover.

Patrick Tamm, President and CEO of Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association, advocates for restaurants on state, local and federal issues. He said Indiana’s hospitality industry once employed nearly 14% of total Hoosier jobs.

“In September we released a study that showed 41% of restaurants did not expect to make it past six months,” said Tamm.

Tamm said federal assistance came months ago, when the Paycheck Protection Program was released, but now that money is gone.

“We’re at 8+ months [into the pandemic] and we got six weeks of relief… seriously?” said Tamm. “For Congress to sit there and play politics with people’s lives and livelihoods… it’s just un-American.”

So far, 214 U.S. Representatives and 50 U.S. Senators from both parties have co-sponsored the RESTAURANTS Act.

“The PPP was an eight-week solution to what has become an eight-month problem,” the letter reads. “Another round of PPP loans may help some industries, but it is not the best solution to help restaurants and bars, America’s second largest private sector employer. Simply put, PPP is not the solution to save our industry.”

“We know that without help from our government, without a safety net, many more restaurants will close,” said Hoover.

Tamm said the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association conducted a study to find out the true economic impact the pandemic has had on the local hospitality industry. He said the results of that study would be released in the coming days.

“It’s billions of dollars to the state of Indiana in terms of lost revenue,” said Tamm. “We at one point in the restaurant space have had 215,000 people laid off.”

Tamm said the local industry cannot make it much longer without federal assistance.

“It’s on Congress’ hands… plain and simple,” said Tamm.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition’s letter to Congress has more than 16,500 signatures. If you are a restaurant owner wanting to sign in support, click here.