Girls, veteran and minority restaurant house owners lose COVID reduction cash after lawsuit

Money intended for women, minority and veteran restaurants was taken away after a group of white men filed charges of discrimination.

SEATTLE – A federal aid program designed to help women, minorities and experienced restaurant owners survive the pandemic backfired on them.

It was all Chelley Bassett could do to keep the doors of her beloved Murphy’s pub open during the pandemic.

“It was really tough,” she said. “We did everything to stay open. We reduced the staff to myself, my business partner, the chef and a cook.”

With her money from the paycheck protection program, Bassett petitioned the federal agency Restaurant Revitalization Fund and received $ 89,000.

She thought it was a godsend that would help keep the drinks flowing at the Seattle pub like they have for the past 40 years.

“I was so happy because it was the last little boost we needed to keep things going,” said Bassett.

But that hope soon turned into fear. As quickly as the federal government approved this money, it took it away again.

The funds gave priority to restaurants owned by women, minorities and veterans in the application process. Some white male-run businesses in Tennessee and Texas alleged discrimination. You sued and won.

Now Bassett and about 3,000 other restaurants have nothing.

“I wanted to advertise. I don’t have the money to do it now,” said Bassett. “We want to give people a raise. We can’t give a raise. What should I do?”

CONNECTED: Some restaurants are struggling to find staff as Washington allows the return to full capacity

Anthony Anton, who heads the Washington Hospitality Association, says the pandemic left the average restaurant $ 150,000 in debt.

Anton urges people to get Congress to redeem all of these grants.

“The court’s decision is the court’s decision,” he said. ‚ÄúThere’s nothing we can do about it. Without the return of the Restaurant Relief Fund, we’ll see more restaurants close. That’s just the truth. Debt is pretty high for many small businesses and there is only a limited amount that you can do keep it up.”

A bipartisan law has been introduced in the country’s capital to fund any restaurants that have asked for help. It remains unclear whether this is possible.

Back at Murphy’s, Bassett and all these other women, minorities, and veterans find themselves at the bottom of the line if Congress decides to run another round of funding.

“We are the industry that is hurting the most and we survived through fighting and now this is happening,” she says. “That is not right.”

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