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Jax Daily Record Monday, Mar. 23, 202007:20 PM EST

Restaurant owners call for government support during and after coronavirus crisis

More than 118 restaurateurs, led by Jacksonville team, signed the letter.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

The Bread & Board owners Jonathan Cobbs and Dwayne Beliakoff are leading an effort for restaurant owners statewide to call on Gov. Ron DeSantis to stabilize small businesses during and after the coronavirus crisis.

Cobbs and Beliakoff, based in Jacksonville, wrote a letter that collected more than 118 signatures from restaurateurs across the state. 

In Jacksonville, owners of Prati Italia, The Bearded Pig, Cowford Chophouse and Medure Brothers Culinary Concepts are among those to sign the letter. 

“We play a significant cultural and economic role in the state and our industry is filled with passionate, hard-working individuals,” Cobbs and Beliakoff said in a March 23 news release. “We contribute $50 billion in economic revenue and employ over 1 million people in this state. We are too big to fail and trust that our government agencies will provide immediate economic support.”

The two also began a petition, which will allow restaurant owners to sign the letter indefinitely. 

The letter says loan programs from the SBA and state emergency relief loans are not enough to support many small business owners. 

The group calls for immediate action locally and at state and national levels.

Locally, owners want to suspend sales taxes on the hospitality and food service industries, defer licensing fees for a year and defer city taxes on small businesses, including real estate or property taxes. 

At the state level, they want a 60-day extension to file tax reports, suspend state sales tax and increase the payback time for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan as well as provide rent and mortgage relief.

The letter calls for adding “pandemic” to insurance business interruption policies to all commercial insurance policyholders. 

It proposes a grant program, which would provide emergency funds for businesses with fewer than 150 employees with a decrease in sales of 25% or greater and provide financial assistance to pay for employees' health care coverage. 

“We ask that you act now.  Our industry, our state and our nation have overcome adversity before; armed with the right tools, we can do it again,” the letter concludes. 


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