Special Sauce: Tom Colicchio On How To Save Restaurants

Posted: Apr 17, 2020

As we all try to deal with the crisis confronting us, I thought we'd follow up on the Special Sauce episodes that focused on Kenji's stories with other voices from the food and beverage industry. In the coming weeks you're going to hear the stories of farmers, bakers, cheesemakers, bartenders, servers, chefs, and anyone else in our food supply chain that should be heard from in these troubled times.

This week, food activist, chef-restaurateur, and Top Chef co-host Tom Colicchio gives us the lowdown on the goals of the newly formed The Independent Restaurant Coalition, an organization formed on the spot to lobby Congress to do right by the more than 500,000 independent restaurants that employ nearly 11 million people—a big part of the nearly $1 trillion dollar hospitality business. Tom knows his way around food policy—he has been working on the issue of food insecurity in this country for years, as when he worked on the terrific documentary A Place at the Table, which was produced and directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, a talented filmmaker who happens to also be Tom's wife—and so he is really wise in the ways of DC policy making. Tom is talking about really important stuff here, so please do give this and the future episodes of Special Sauce a serious listen.
I asked Tom what we can do as individuals to help, and his response was simple: "Call your representatives in DC and urge them to support the I.R.C. initiative."

We feel so strongly about the specific recommendations of the IRC, we urge you to read them yourself. You can find them here.

In short, the IRC is advocating making the following changes to the original PPP legislation:

Pegging the origination date of a PPP loan to the first day that restaurants, in any given entity, can legally open fully.

Extending the maximum forgivable loan amounts to three months after restaurants are allowed to reopen and operate at full capacity.

Pushing back the end of the program to after June 30th.

Without these changes, Colicchio said on a conference call with journalists yesterday, "The situation is dire, and we are looking at something that will completely gut the industry."

By Ed Levine
April 17, 2020
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