Cape Cod advocacy group pushes for laws to assist eating places

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Cape Cod small business advocacy group Love Live Local has joined organizations in the Boston area pushing to extend legislation that helped restaurants get back on their feet during the pandemic.

With COVID-19 restrictions off the table last weekend and Governor Charlie Baker’s emergency order expiring on June 15, there is concern that restaurants will need a little more help as that deadline looms near the heart of a Cape summer.

Amanda Converse, CEO and Founder of Love Live Local, attended a virtual rally on restaurant laws last month and was part of an email explosion last week to “draw attention to the havoc that is about to be wrought in the restaurant industry.” “. in Massachusetts.

In the early days of the pandemic, state lawmakers allowed beer, wine, and cocktails to be sold with takeaway orders and capped the fees that restaurants pay for delivery apps like Grubhub, UberEats, and DoorDash to 15%. But both provisions are linked to the Baker State of Emergency.

“We’d like to see a cap on third-party delivery charges,” Converse told the Times.

This cap is part of a package currently being drafted by US House and Senate legislatures that Converse said would expand some provisions of the Emergency Ordinance. Telemedicine appointments and continuing virtual community meetings are also discussed in this package, she said.

If the delivery fee cap is not included in this legislation, SD 2556, a standalone bill by Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, could extend the delivery fee cap and take-away cocktail permit for up to two years.

If such legislation is not enacted, large increases in delivery charges would be a “crisis” for restaurants in Cape Town, Converse said in last week’s email, shared with the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Cambridge Local First, the Central Square BID, East Cambridge Business Association, the Kendall Square Association, and the American Economic Liberties Project.

Restaurants will continue to face challenges as many people don’t want to go back to personal dining just yet, she said. Consumers order take-away and have groceries delivered.

“It will be a while before this behavior changes,” Converse said.

With the challenge of finding seasonal workers and dealing with an expected record number of tourists this summer, restaurants in Cape Cod will have to rely on delivery services, Converse said. Without a cap on these delivery fees, restaurants could be deducted huge chunks from their profits.

Converse said it was concerned that delivery services could increase their fees to 25% to 35% or more, a margin that is unsustainable for restaurants that were forced to rely on delivery services after the COVID-19 outbreak because of otherwise they could not reach the customers.

Some services took advantage of putting restaurant menus on their websites, she said, so that when orders were placed on the service website, they would automatically receive the delivery fee. “The attorney general’s office has notified companies,” said Converse. “You cannot put a menu on your website without permission.”

Keane Steiding, manager of KKaties Burger Bar in Hyannis, said delivery services saved the restaurant during the pandemic, but they had to raise prices to cover costs. Now the restaurant is offering discounts for customers who pick up the food themselves. “It’s a better margin for us,” he said.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association and Massachusetts Restaurants United are also pushing for a cap on delivery charges and the extension of two other economic development measures related to the restaurant industry.

“We’re excited to see the corporate restrictions lifted,” said MRA Vice President Steve Clark. “But there’s a lot of economic relief that restaurants need to get back on a level.”

Clark wants a bill to be passed that cap delivery charges to 15%, allows take-away alcoholic beverages, and allows restaurants to continue serving al fresco dining.

Outdoor dining was permitted by an order issued by Baker that ends August 15, or 60 days after the state of emergency was lifted. The governor himself is pushing for outdoor dining to be extended until November.

Outdoor dining is very popular, and restaurant owners have invested in furniture, heat lamps, and barriers to keep their guests comfortable outside. A Shared Streets program has given communities $ 10 million in incentives to retrofit public roads, Clark said.

“It has helped our industry survive over the past year,” he said.

Material from Statehouse News Service was used in this story. Contact Denise Coffey at dcoffey@capecodonline.com. Follow her on Twitter: @DeniseCoffeyCCT.