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Oregon restaurant owners express pandemic frustrations to Rep. Bonamici

According to a spokesperson with the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, about 10% of the state’s restaurants have closed since the pandemic began.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Nearly 12 months into the pandemic, we’re continuing to see restaurants close. So far, according to a spokesperson with the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, about 10% of the state’s restaurants have closed since the pandemic.

On Friday afternoon several restaurant owners from across the state shared their experiences in a roundtable discussion over Zoom with U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon). 

One of those business owners was Lisa Schroeder, who owns Mother’s Bistro and Bar in downtown Portland. She talked about her frustration. Schroeder was able to receive the Payment Protection Program (PPP), but instead of a grant, it has now turned into a loan because she wasn’t able to use all the grant money in a specific period of time, which the PPP program required.

“The terms were 75% of the money had to be spent on payroll," said Schroeder. "It's impossible to spend 75% on payroll when you can only employ 10 out of 100 employees because you can't be open for in-house dining,” said Schroeder.

Business owners also couldn’t meet the requirements of the program because some were only able to open on a much smaller scale, or in Schroeder’s case, forced to temporarily close. Bonamici listened for nearly an hour and said she’s hoping to provide more help, especially with a new administration.

All the business owners who spoke on Friday afternoon agree, when and if they’re able to come back, their pre-pandemic business model is gone and won’t likely come back.

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