Another push to add $60B to restaurant fund

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There was another push Tuesday to get more money for restaurants, many of which scraped by during the pandemic. It’s an issue News10NBC has been asking questions about ever since the original money ran out.

Tuesday, Rep. Joe Morelle (D, NY-25) said he’s getting signals from the White House that they’re interested in finding the money for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. This is a fund that was cut in half last spring, then depleted in a matter of weeks and the idea to replenish it has been sitting around for six months.

"We’ve actually talked about it before," I told Rep. Morelle. I interviewed him about replenishing the fund in November. "So what makes you think it’s going to get done now?"

"In the last couple of weeks the White House has signaled, I don’t want speak for them nor would I say they made an absolute commitment to it," Morelle said. "But there’s clearly more signs they understand the original $28 billion is simply not enough."

With Morelle Tuesday was Good Luck restaurant co-owner Chuck Cerankosky who said he would use the money to open more days and hire more staff.

"A lot of times it’s the entrepreneurial spirit that weaves its way around any situation. You know – we can figure it out," he said. "But when you watch money get dolled out to some and not all that comes from a pool that was contributed to by all it rubs you the wrong way I would say."

Brean: "So this money is still needed even though we’re two years out from the start of COVID?"

Chuck Cerankosky: "I don’t think we run our businesses dependent on public funding. We’re not looking for the taxpayer to supplement us running a business. However, a lot of money was indexed for this industry. What would we do with it? It would be small adjustments that allow our restaurants to operate the number of days we intend for them to which means we hire more staff which means we supply more jobs and all that good stuff."

The original total for the fund last spring was $60 billion.

That was cut to $28 billion which got spent in a month. There is a waiting list of thousands of restaurant owners who applied and got approved like Lorraine Serpe in Victor.

"Did you ever see any of that money?" I asked her in November.

"Never," Serpe said.

Brean: "Will there be any language in this bill that says if you got the money back in June you can’t get it again?"

Rep. Morelle: "What I’d say is the people who did not receive funding should have the highest priority."

Restaurant relief money was in President Biden’s Build Back Better package which did not get passed. The majority of members of Congress have co-sponsored this bill, like Morelle, which means they publicly support it.