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What to Say to Your Representatives to Advocate for a Restaurant Bailout

With restaurants in dire straights, the time for government action is now

A waitress takes food from the pass Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

In a piece this week titled “Restaurants Are Fucked — Unless They Get a Bailout,” I urged diners who want to see restaurants weather this unprecedented crisis to call their representatives and tell them to provide relief to the industry.

For folks who are wondering how to do that, I’ve created the following script for calling and emailing. To find numbers for your mayor and governor, a quick Google search will lead you to their contact number. To speak to your congressional representative or senator, call (202) 224-3121 and give your zip code. You can also use Resistbot to contact government officials — simply text the script below to 504-09 and Resistbot will determine who represents you and send an email, fax, or letter on your behalf.

Sample script, for emailing and calling your representatives. Adapt at will.

My name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [CITY], [ZIP CODE].

Thank you for the leadership you’ve shown in the face of this pandemic. And to your staff members reading this, thank you for all the work you’re putting in right now.

I’m urging you to immediately create a relief program for the restaurant industry and its millions of workers.

Nationwide, over 15 million people work in this industry, many without paid sick leave or health insurance. There have been sweeping layoffs and these workers’ access to unemployment benefits has been uneven. They need government aid in the form of ongoing universal basic income, and relief from rent and protection from eviction. They will not have an easy time finding work in the restaurant industry any time soon.

Small and medium restaurant businesses need immediate rent abatement, tax deferrals, eviction protection, and money. Please create a relief fund these small- and medium-businesses can access, with money they do not owe back.

Do not let a bailout happen that only lets giant fast-food companies survive. McDonald’s has deep pockets. Your favorite neighborhood restaurant doesn’t.

Thank you.