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Rep. Morelle and restaurant owners gather to push for more federal aid

morelle restaurant bill
Randy Gorbman
Rep. Joe Morelle (D-25), held a news conference Friday with owners of several local restaurants to talk about a bill that would provide more funding for struggling restaurants.

Owners of several local restaurants gathered in Village Gate in Rochester on Friday to join Congressman Joe Morelle and his push for legislation that will provide more federal aid to struggling restauranteurs.

Morelle, who is a Democrat from Irondequoit, is backing a bill that would pump another $42 billion into the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

That fund ran dry just three weeks after it was established last year, and Morelle says many restaurants never got the money they needed to stay afloat.

Kelly Metras is an owner of both Salena’s and Nox restaurants, and she also heads up the local chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association.

Metras said that her restaurants have been able to keep going with federal aid they did receive.

“If it wasn’t for receiving the assistance that we received over the past two years, we might still be open, but would definitely not have as many employees as we have,” said Metras. “So what we did is we used all of that funding to make sure that our employees stayed at their hours, and at their pay. They’ve actually gotten significant raises over the past two years.”

In terms of the cost of the program, Morelle said that, “It’s worth noting that the cost of this legislation will be fully offset by funds reclaimed by the federal government from those attempting to defraud previous recovery programs.”

The bill Morelle is backing passed in the House this past week, and the Congressman is hopeful it will get approved by the U.S. Senate as well. He said the House bill would also provide an additional $13 billion to small businesses that were hardest hit by the pandemic, but not eligible for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund or Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.