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Battered restaurant industry needs coronavirus stimulus help now: Dunkin' Brands chairman

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
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With a resurgence in COVID-19 cases sweeping the United States in the final weeks of an already dreadful 2020, most smaller players in the battered restaurant industry could be poised to be financially rocked yet again by fresh indoor dining restrictions. So much so that they simply may go out of business for good after managing to hold on for dear life in recent months.

“I think the issue that I see is that they have fought a very good fight to keep going. How much longer can they keep going though,” Dunkin’ Brands Chairman and and former CEO Nigel Travis told Yahoo Finance Live. Travis says restaurant franchisees and smaller operators he knows continue to struggle during the pandemic as states clamp down on mobility to try and control the virus.

“Definitely help is needed,” Travis added.

Restaurant executives such as Travis remain befuddled by government’s lack of action on a relief bill for restaurants. The latest bi-partisan stimulus package doesn’t include the $120 billion Restaurants Act, which would have established a fund for foodservice or drinking establishments that aren’t public companies or within a chain that has 20 or more locations under one name.

“Certainly the restaurant industry has been looking for extra help for several months. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has made continued pleas. I would have thought people would be listening in Washington. So it’s disappointing,” Travis said.

Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 12/12/20 New York City continues to suffer economic hardship during the coronavirus pandemic as restaurants will once again be closed to indoor dining as of Monday, December 14th. Outdoor dining will still be allowed, but as temperatures fall in the months ahead, it will become a less attracive alternative to dining at home.
Photo by: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 12/12/20 New York City continues to suffer economic hardship during the coronavirus pandemic as restaurants will once again be closed to indoor dining as of Monday, December 14th. Outdoor dining will still be allowed, but as temperatures fall in the months ahead, it will become a less attracive alternative to dining at home.

Apparently politicians haven’t been tracking the latest data on restaurants, which stands to materially worsen in coming months absent a relief plan. The NRA said earlier this month in a new survey that 110,000 restaurants have permanently closed this year. That was up by 10,000 from a survey taken in September. The survey found only 48% of these now former restaurant owners would stay in the industry in any form in the months or years ahead.

“More than 500,000 restaurants of every business type—franchise, chain, and independent—are in an unprecedented economic decline, and for every day that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands more restaurants across the country will close their doors for good,” Sean Kennedy, the NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs, recently told lawmakers.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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