Highlights of Federal Activity Impacting the Restaurant Industry

Federal Activity

Restaurant Revitalization Fund:  The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitization Fund (RRF), which gave grants to eligible food businesses, quickly ran out of funding after it was created earlier this year under the Biden administration's American Rescue plan. Efforts to refill the Small Business Administration (SBA) program are pending. In September, 2021, the SBA did announce it will quadruple the loan cap for COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans to $2 million. The announcement also includes a deferred payment period and an expansion of the eligible use of funds.

Tip Credit: On June 23, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), which reverses course from a December 2020 final rule and seeks to resurrect the so-called “80/20 Rule” that governs how tipped employees must be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Despite the DOL’s attempt to add clarity, the proposed rule ambiguities and contradictions remain.  Counsel summary is here.

September 2021 - The Department of Labor announced a final rule that restores the department’s ability to assess civil money penalties against employers who take tips earned by their employees, regardless of whether those violations are repeated or willful. In addition, today’s rule modifies the department’s broader civil money penalties regulations addressing when a violation is willful, further aligning these regulations with applicable precedent and how the department litigates willfulness. The rule also allows managers and supervisors to contribute to valid tip pooling arrangements, without receiving tips from those pools.

Menu Labeling: The Food and Drug Administration's website on how to comply with menu labeling requirements.