President Trump Participates in a Roundtable with Restaurant Executives and Industry Leaders
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. We’re here with the leaders of the restaurant industry. It’s an industry that’s been tremendously impacted by what’s happening with COVID, and it’s an industry that we’re working very hard with and on. We’re looking at doing deductibility so that a corporation can use a restaurant or entertainment clubs, et cetera, and get deductibility. I think that’ll really have a big impact. Steve can maybe talk about it — Steve Mnuchin.
But I’d like to have some of these leaders talk about — real quickly — about their company and the industry and any ideas they have, and I think we can do it in front of the media for a little while, and then we can answer a couple of questions, and we’re going to get back to business. Okay?
MR. CIL: Well, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Scalia, and everyone else here, including my — my brethren from the restaurant industry: Thanks so much for — for having us here. It’s an honor for me to be here representing 10,000 restaurants in the U.S. We have Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons. These restaurants are owned by small businesses. We have franchisees from coast to coast that — that work day in, day out. We have team members that are in the restaurants day in and day out.
We have — we’ve been in the restaurants, working as an essential service since the beginning of the crisis in March. We have had our drive-throughs open and delivery open, but we’ve still had a tremendous impact on our business. And so we’re really looking forward to the process of reopening the economy, reopening the country.
We already have about 1,000 locations around the country that have started to open the dining rooms with reduced capacity. We’ve added PPE. We’ve added safe social distancing in the restaurants to ensure that people can come in. We have acrylic screens in the front counter. We have masks and gloves for the employees to ensure that everyone feels safe — our guests and our team members.
And I just wanted to thank the President. Mr. President and your administration, I think you’ve acted quickly and swiftly and with good measure. The CARES Act and the PPP had a tremendous impact on our businesses. I mean, I think there’s a lot, we think, that it can do to make a very good program even better.
One of the things that we’ve talked about as we were kind of chatting here is this idea of extending the eight-week deadline. We think that eight-week deadline, when it — when it was implemented, was probably — you know, eight weeks probably seemed like an eternity. But today, we’re — we’re in the 10th week of the pandemic, and I think it’s going to take some time for our restaurants and our owners to get back to the capacity levels and the traffic levels that we were seeing pre-COVID.
And so a little more time, we think — probably taking it to 24 weeks — would be appropriate to allow for restaurant owners that are participating the program to be able to manage through and rehire the employees, which is what the purpose of PPP was intended for.
There was two other things that I think are important for us. One is we think business liability protection for small businesses is important. You know, we’re going to see potentially — with the reopening of the economy, with the reopening of small restaurants, we’re going to see frivolous, I think, and unfounded lawsuits against restaurant owners, against small businesses that are trying to do the right thing, trying to survive, and trying to keep their — their businesses going. So we — we firmly believe that protection from these types of frivolous lawsuits would be helpful.
And then finally, to the extent that there’s additional federal assistance that’s targeted for the restaurant industry, I think the restaurant industry as a whole took about — participated to the tune of about 9 percent of the PPP, and we think there should be additional funds available for us to be able to weather and continue to weather the storm.
But we’re really proud to be here, proud to be part of this extraordinary group of restaurant leaders, and thank you so much for the opportunity to be here.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. That’s a lot. Ten thousand restaurants. And some big — that’s some big group and a good group, too. I know — I know your chains, and I know a lot about your company. It’s a great company. So you’ll be back very soon, I have no doubt about it. And some of the things you mentioned, we’ll be talking about.
I do want to say before we go further: So this was a very big day therapeutically, cure-wise, and vaccine-wise. Tremendous progress has been made, as I’ve been saying for two weeks, because I’ve been seeing what’s going on and, I think, spearheading it largely. And this was a very, very — some big announcements are — are coming and have just come out, and the market is up almost 1,000 points. You’ll check your market, your — I’m sure you did before you walked in the room, but I imagine your company is doing better today than it was a week ago, right?
Please go to Video for the remaining Conference. Source: WhiteHouse.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.