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Richmond Restaurants United makes plea: 'We need your help'

Posted at 4:50 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-21 13:39:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, a collection of Richmond restaurant owners and workers has come together to form Richmond Restaurants United.

In addition to providing online resources to the thousands of Richmond-area restaurant employees who lost their jobs when dining rooms across the region closed in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, the group urged immediate action from the government to help those left suddenly unemployed.

As stated on its website, the group hopes to:

  1. Alleviate the financial stress placed on our businesses and employees by lobbying our local, state, and national governments for financial assistance.
  2. Advocating for a bold stimulus package to support our industry that includes a wage for our unemployed workers, tentatively called Social Distancing wage.
  3. To support each other and share ideas, advice, and kindness throughout this ordeal.

Earlier this week, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced he would propose a city amnesty program for all penalties and interest on most local taxes due between March 13 and June 30, 2020.

The mayor's office, working with some of the restaurants now involved in Richmond Restaurants United, also announced plans to explore "options for a program to issue small, no-interest loans to support small businesses."

“I urge you to keep ordering takeout and delivery and consider buying gift-cards for future use," Mayor Stoney said at the time of Monday's announcement.

"We continue to seek ways to reduce the burden on the local businesses and employees impacted by this pandemic and are looking forward to the federal and state governments doing their part to enact legislation to help stabilize this important industry and part of our local, regional and national economy," a spokesperson for Mayor Stoney said in response to the newly-released Richmond Restaurants United video. "We are encouraged and appreciative of all those business owners and residents who understand the gravity of the situation and the importance of limiting gatherings and maintaining social distance and have already taken steps to do so – not just because it has been ordered by the Governor, but because they recognize it’s the right thing to do and in the best interests of public health and public safety for all in our community."

Below is a transcription of the video:

Kevin Liu - Carytown Cupcakes, The Jasper, Tin Pan
Bars and restaurants are not an industry that will go away. The question is, will we still be here? The people that you know and love right now in your community? Will we be around?

Brittanny Anderson - Metzger Bar & Butchery, Brenner Pass, Chairlift
We need dramatic and fast support in order to keep our businesses moving and to have the possibility of reopening in the future.

David Shannon - L'Opossum
For some people, they're not going to come back. I could very well be one of them. It's hard to say. It's really hard to say

Derick Washington - LX Group
What means are being provided to us as owners and operators of these businesses to ensure that we still have our business when this pandemic is over,

Michelle Williams - Richmond Restaurant Group
What I need is swift action from our government with assistance that's meaningful for our restaurants and our restaurant employees.

Chris Fultz - ZZQ Texas Craft BBQ
We have 75 to 80% of our staff currently furloughed.

Brittanny Anderson
There are no jobs for these people. There's nowhere for them to go. Therefore, we need to support them and their sacrifice for the public health with a social distancing wage.

Derick Washington
We have currently had to let go of over 100 staff members.

Alex Graff - ZZQ Texas Craft BBQ
I don't have the answers for those 45 kids that look up to me, But I'm trying my best. Without any guidance.

Victoria DeRoche - Nota Bene
It's a time for grants, it's a time for us to support each other by staying away from each other.

Sam Prescott - Longoven
Now's the time for action. With each continuing day, restaurants continue to suffer. We need clarity and leadership from our government and we need to know that we'll be supported.

Sunny Baweja - Lehja
It has to be an action, which they should take right away, like we can wait for this.

Lee Gregory - Alewife, Southbound
People are going to need operating money to get the doors back open, they're going to rent and mortgages, you know, forgiven. Like it's just a broad brush of everything that needs to be done.

Emily Opicka - Longoven
We need a little bit of time to coast and right now that means that we need actions that are done that are clear and concise and immediate.

Tom Sullivan - Ardent Craft Ales
We need to encourage the public to responsibly support the businesses that still are able to operate.

Clayton Navarre - Poor Boys of Richmond
Now is the time

Derick Washington
We're looking to you for help at this time.

Courtney Mannion - Metzger Bar & Butchery
We need your help.

Alexia - Longoven
We need your help.

Donita Del Rosario - Longoven
We need your help.

Shannon Hood - Brenner Pass
We need your help.

Laine Myers - Nota Bene
We need your help.

Patrick Phelan - Longoven
We need your help now, collectively, to make sure that at the very least we provide a fighting chance for operators, dishwashers, farmers wine reps, beer reps, oyster recyclers, compost recyclers, everyone in this industry to have a fighting chance to get back to dining rooms and provide a space for your life to be what you remembered it being.