Restaurants seek immediate financial relief from Legislature

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Creation of a $75 Million Hospitality Relief Fund is Needed for Industry to Survive

Jason Brandt, President & CEO,
Oregon Restaurant Lodging Association

Wilsonville, OR– Another shutdown of Oregon’s restaurants, bars and foodservice establishments is crippling an already broken and damaged industry.  While other industries in Oregon have experienced revenue losses on average of five percent from last year, the hospitality industry in Oregon has experienced revenue losses on average of at least thirty percent.

Because of this massive economic disparity, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), the leading business association for the foodservice and lodging industry in Oregon, has sent a letter to the Legislative Joint Emergency Board asking for the immediate creation of a $75 million Hospitality Relief Fund to help operators and their employees survive another shutdown.

“There is no federal relief package waiting to be voted on and distributed from Congress or the White House,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “There are no stimulus checks being printed to help Oregon families pay their bills. There is no weekly check for $600 available for those servers, cooks, hosts and hostesses about to lose their jobs or have their hours cut again because restaurants can’t survive on takeout and delivery if they can do it at all.”

Restaurants and bars are still paying rent and there has been no extension of the commercial rent moratorium even though revenue has been cut by as much as 65% for some operators because of the shutdowns, “pause” and now a “freeze.”

Restaurants and bars are still paying OLCC license fees even though they are not able to serve hard alcohol or offer cocktails to go for customers doing pickup or delivery. They are still paying health inspection fees based on the number of seats they have in their establishment even though they cannot seat anyone in their establishment. There are payroll taxes, corporate activity taxes, property taxes on property they cannot fully use and commercial personal property taxes on property restaurants own.

In addition to the immediate creation of the $75 million Hospitality Relief Fund, ORLA is recommending several other solutions to the Legislature to help the hospitality industry survive.  Those solutions include:

  • Passage of an already drafted Legislative Concept (LC 833) allowing for “To-Go Cocktails” from bars and restaurants
  • Waiving or significantly discounting fees including but not limited to business licenses, corporate filing, health inspection fees and OLCC on-premises license fees to make up for the fact the businesses are not able to fully operate
  • Extension of the Commercial Eviction Moratorium

“We were already hearing from members they were concerned about what another shutdown would do to their chances of staying open,” said Brandt.  “Without significant help from the state, the hospitality industry in Oregon–many of your favorite restaurants, hotels, bars and other places– will have to permanently close their doors, putting tens of thousands of people out of work.”

“Hospitality businesses need immediate help.  We cannot wait for February and hope a relief package will materialize and be approved at the federal level,” said Brandt. “This is an emergency and we need the Joint Emergency Board to take action now to save our industry and the tens of thousands of Oregonians who rely on it to put food on the table, pay their rent or mortgage and provide for their families’ needs.”