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How I'm celebrating Black-owned restaurants week:

There are many things Portland is known for – biking, progressive politics, friendly people, thriving arts, and even the occasional hipster. But one of my favorites is our local dining options. Our food scene takes you from your front doorstep to the other side of the world, all on the same block. But as the virus continues to spread, many of these beloved restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes are struggling to keep their doors open.

As our city celebrates Black-Owned Restaurants Week for the seventh year, there's no better time to support the 130+ Black-owned restaurants that make our community so special.

While the pandemic has dealt a disastrous blow to small businesses across the country, independent restaurants – which account for around 76% of the total restaurants and bars in the United States – and their workers have been uniquely devastated. In April alone, 5.5 million restaurant workers lost their jobs, accounting for 27% of total job losses in the month.

The future is even more uncertain for Black-owned businesses. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, an estimated 41% of Black-owned businesses across the country shut down between February and April – compared to 17% of white-owned businesses.

It's clear that if we don't take action now, our independent restaurants, especially our Black-owned ones, may not survive. That's why I'm working to enact my bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act, which would provide $120 billion to independent restaurants to keep them afloat through the end of the year.

Critically, the RESTAURANTS Act gives priority to minority- and women-owned and operated establishments and even sets aside funding for outreach to these communities, which are too often overlooked.

And unlike previous federal relief, this aid is only available to the food and drink service industry. Its focus on local restaurants most in need is part of the reason why my legislation has garnered huge support from local restaurant owners, their workers, members of the community, and my colleagues in Congress.

Our independent and Black-owned restaurants are the beating heart of our communities. But they need relief now. As we celebrate this year's Black-Owned Restaurants Week, I'm fighting to get this bill across the finish line and provide our local restaurants the lifeline they deserve.

I hope you'll join me in supporting our local Black-owned restaurants – this week, and every week. To see a directory of Black-owned eateries, click here.

Courage,

Earl

Posted on August 27, 2020.