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Independent Philly Restaurants Get a Six-Month Reprieve from Evictions

Non-chains also won’t be punished for being late on rent for 180 days

philadelphia skyline at sunset
Certain Philly restaurants will be protected from evictions for the next six months.
R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Philly’s struggling restaurant industry just got a big lifeline: a six-month shield from evictions and late rental fees.

The city council unanimously approved legislation last week to prohibit evictions for independent restaurants with less than 100 employees that have experienced a 50-percent dip in revenue during the pandemic. City councilmember Bobby Henon sponsored the bill, which is expected to be signed into law by Mayor Jim Kenney.

“We’re in a fly-by-night business. We can’t raise our prices, and all the hard work could go up in the snap of a finger if they get evicted. This is going to be a lifeline,” Rich Landau, co-owner of Vedge in Center City, tells BillyPenn.

While the move is helpful, restauranteurs say there’s more to be done to keep businesses afloat through the COVID-19 crisis. Without federal stimulus and support, many restaurants have already closed, and others are sure to follow. On Friday, December 4, Democrats in the state senate proposed a $4 billion COVID-19 package that would allocate $300 million in business relief to bars and restaurants, reports Metro Philadelphia.

“There’s so much more that we’re going to need to be able to survive and keep our employees employed,” Nicole Marquis, co-founder of Save Philly Restaurants and owner of fast-casual chain HipCityVeg, tells Philly’s ABC affiliate.

Indoor dining in Philadelphia ceased in March, restarted in September at 25-percent capacity, then halted again last month through January as coronavirus cases fluctuate. Philadelphia hit a single-day pandemic high of 1,816 COVID-19 cases on Friday. Outdoor dining is currently limited to four-seat tables from the same household.

Save Philly Restaurants, a coalition signed by 50 independent restaurateurs representing over 200 establishments, plans to meet with Philly health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley this week to discuss ways to safely seat diners inside restaurants again.

A new resource in Philly called ClosedinPHL maps permanent or temporary Philly restaurant closures, along with updates on each’s status.