WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - When it comes to COVID-19 and restaurants, many are finding it ‘tough going’ at the eatery - making it tough to put food on the table at home.
“Times are getting a little tougher,” said David Bartlett, who co-owns Johnny D’s Casual Dining. “I think people are starting to run out of money.”
Money, that Johnny D’s in Watertown relies on to keep its family business running.
“It’s something my wife and I opened 13 years ago,” Bartlett said.
When the pandemic hit, Bartlett was able to keep the grill going and keep his employees working thanks to federal aid from the Paycheck Protection Program.
“We were lucky enough to be busy during that time as well, so it all worked out okay,” he said.
But as the seasons change and temperatures drop, restaurants like Johnny D’s are losing the ability to seat customers outside and this restaurant can only seat 15 people inside at a time.
“We can see a reduction in our credit card sales, for example,” Bartlett said. “Last week we were down 15 percent, 3 percent the week before that, and you can just see it sort of dwindle away a little bit.”
But a new bill, the Restaurants Act, promises to help these small businesses survive.
It would create $120 billion for restaurants and bars to pay workers, pay rent and mortgages, and pay for protective equipment and cleaning supplies to keep people safe.
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urged her colleagues to pass the bill.
“This industry and these worker’s really need our help,” the senator said.
Gillibrand says the bill has bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Bartlett says he would like to see it pass.
“It’s going to be essential on keeping a lot of smaller businesses open,” he said. “We don’t have a corporate net to fall back on. This is all mom-and-pop stuff out of pocket and we’ve already seen a lot restaurants fail or just chose not to reopen, but we are not going away. We’re going to be here for people. They were here for us.”>
Gillibrand said Tuesday she hopes the Restaurants Act will be included in Congress’s next relief plan.