Another effort is underway to provide more targeted relief for the restaurant industry – or at least relief to a very small part of it! Representative Earl Blumenauer, a democratic Congressman from Oregon and member of the House Ways and Means Committee is working with senior Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker on securing bipartisan support to pass the Restaurants Act of 2020. Despite last week’s passage of the PPP Flexibility Act, which greatly improved the parameters of the loan program, the newly-formed Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) is advocating for a $120 billion stabilization grant program to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program would not be available to publicly traded entities, nor to those that are part of a chain with at least 20 locations doing business under the same name. In a report just released this week, the IRC declared that without further financial assistance, as many as 85% of independent restaurants could permanently close because of the coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic shutdown. The program would provide eligible small businesses with outright grants up to $10 million which could be used to pay for payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities maintenance, supplies, food, debt obligations to suppliers and any other expenses authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury.