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Restaurant Industry Facing Financial Struggles During Pandemic Closures

SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) -- The restaurant industry is in trouble as indoor dining remains shutdown throughout Los Angeles County during the coronavirus pandemic.

In places like Santa Monica, restaurants have had to adapt to the unprecedented action of exclusively taking their business outdoors.

"This was never a restaurant designed to do takeout food but we've been doing take-out since March and you know it was never a restaurant designed to be out on the street but here we are," said Dave Beran, Chef/Owner of Pasjoli.

Despite the willingness to adapt, most restaurants agree takeout and outdoor tabletops are not enough to sustain their businesses.

A new report on Friday predicts one-third of all U.S. restaurants will close permanently this year.

In California, 900,000 restaurant workers have already lost their jobs and even more could when federal relief funds run out next month.

"Many restaurants I talk to say that within the next, you know, 4 to 6 weeks they're gonna run out of PPP funds," said Jot Condie, president of Californa Restaurant Association.

The newly-formed independent restaurant association is lobbying Congress to also pass the $120 billion Restaurants Act to help owners pay workers and rent, utilities and supplies with the hope of putting more than twice that back into the national economy.

"We support another 5-10 million jobs in ranching, fishing, and farming, wineries, distribution, accounting, it runs the gamut. The loss of restaurants, which will happen without any kind of real aid, is going to result in all of these jobs being lost for good," said Caroline Styne of the Lucques Group.

The minimum wage will also go up soon, and restaurant owners feel pressure from all sides.

"If they know their fixed costs, their labor costs are going to go up by, you know, 20% or whatever it's going to be depending on the city, that could make the difference between whether they're going to be able to open up or not," Condie said.

A new campaign called Stay Safe, Stay Open is helping restaurants embrace new regulations so they can safely welcome diners back.

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