$2.5M Grant for Restaurant Workers

Shelby County did pass the $2.5M grant for restaurant workers.

We don’t have details as of yet as to what the application process will be and what will be needed to qualify.

The Urban League is actually going to be the entity receiving the grant and will administer payments, record keeping, and assist with application issues, but MRA is supposed to be involved in the decision making process about the application, who qualifies, etc.

President Mike Miller was told that the contract will take up to two weeks to finalize for the actual grant. After that is the process of developing the application, then payments, so monies won’t likely be paid out until March sometime.

***Important: Recipients will receive a 1099 at the end of the year and will be required to claim it as taxable income.***

Daily Memphian: County Commission approves $2.5M relief fund

Local 24: Shelby County restaurant & hotel workers to get funding relief from COVID-19

Fox 13: Grant will give $2.5 million to restaurant, hotel and hospitality workers

WREG: $1,000 grants for restaurant workers hit by pandemic gets Shelby County’s OK

WMC Action News 5: Some restaurant, hospitality workers to receive $1,000 relief checks from Shelby County

MRA Statement on Health Directive 16

Restaurants are, in fact, among the safest places to be due to social distancing, mask requirements, and numerous other regulations ensuring the safety of our staff and guests.  Local, state and national data (see links below) bear out the truth that restaurants are not a significant source of transmission, yet our local officials continue to unreasonably single out the restaurant industry.  We are disappointed with the Health Department’s decisions and continued lack of communication and are asking for the support of our membership, employees, and community by contacting community leaders to push back against this injustice. Shutting restaurants down drives the public to higher-risk, unregulated, private gatherings.


COVID-19 Critical Indicators (TN Department of Health) https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/CriticalIndicatorReport.pdf  (refer to page 6)

New York reveals some state-level contact tracing data https://buff.ly/38u7X9P

Nashville Mayor says COVID surge from community spread not restaurants or local businesses https://buff.ly/2KxfoFj

How much are restaurants contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in LA County? https://buff.ly/2LSFKC0

Survey About Closing Dining Rooms


Please answer the survey so that we may forward the data to the Shelby County Health Department and Mayors as they make their decisions over the next week.

This survey is for restauranteurs only, not vendors, however, vendors are more than welcome to forward it to their restaurant clients.

Tips on PPP & Loan Forgiveness

Restaurant ACT

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has gone through several changes since it was first enacted to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. Aaron Frazier, Director of Healthcare and Tax Policy at the National Restaurant Association, offers timely tips on the PPP and loan forgiveness in the video below.

When Congress created PPP, its intent was for business expenses paid by PPP to be tax-deductible.  However, guidance from the IRS says that expenses paid for with a forgiven loan are now taxable.

Take action now to help protect restaurants from surprise tax liabilities! 

Restaurants across the country may soon face surprise tax liability when they can least afford it.  Some restaurants have indicated that this surprise tax liability could be the final factor that causes them to close.  Congress must make business expenses paid for by PPP tax-deductible.

Congress needs to hear from restaurants now.  Negotiations are ongoing for this final relief package and time is of the essence! 

Thank you for all that you do for the industry.

Mike Whatley 
Vice President of State Affairs and Grassroots Advocacy 
National Restaurant Association

Info is taken from an email from:
National Restaurant Association
2055 L St. NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036

Quarantine Protocol Updated Dec 4

Quarantine Protocol Updated

This is for persons who have been exposed (direct contact), but have not tested positive, and do not have symptoms. See the full Health Department document here.

  • Quarantine can end after Day 10 of exposure without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
  • In some cases, quarantine can end after Day 7 of exposure, if a diagnostic specimen tests negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring, but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.
  • In both cases, the quarantined subject must continue to 1. Monitor for signs and symptoms of illness, 2. Wear a mask when around others, and 3. Observe social distancing through Day 14 of exposure.

HD Letterhead

Health Department Meeting Thursday, December 3

MRA Health Department Update

On Thursday, December 3, Mayor Harris and Dr. Haushalter, along with 3 municipal mayors hosted a zoom meeting to address our concerns regarding public and industry communication, understanding, and involvement.  Ernie Mellor, Mike Miller, Shawn Danko, Steve Voss, Sally Fienup, Deni Reilly, and Kelly English were all in attendance and contributed questions and comments. This was a productive start to furthering our relationship with Mayor Harris and the Health Department.  Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Mayor Harris will be our point person in getting answers and clarification and is committed to increasing the frequency and quality of communications
  • We set another meeting for 12/17 and will continue to meet regularly
  • The decision-making process is definitely health-driven but does also take into account some measure of feedback regarding community, economic, and social impact. This is the area we MUST continue to bring balance to.
  • Data is only part of the decision-making “rationale.” Unfortunately, this means there is no black and white answer as to what and when changes get made.
  • We reiterated throughout the meeting that future closures should not be on the table. As we all speak with our elected officials, we need to hammer this message home…Closures are not an option!
  • Federal guidance for Tennessee IS to close restaurants and bars, but Dr Haushalter and Mayor Harris chose not to.
  • Enclosed tents that do not allow outside air to flow are to be treated with the same limitations as indoor dining. Outdoor dining remains the same with regard to social distance guidelines
  • The vaccine is coming to Memphis in the coming weeks, but health care workers will be given priority. We did ask that restaurant workers take priority as well as the vaccine comes online.
  • Our action plan is to submit questions so Mayor Harris for answers and clarity. We are compiling a list of all the comments submitted and discussed leading up to our letter from last week. We will email those questions and answers as well as post them on our website as they come in.

Net of the meeting was positive but did not provide as many answers or affect the change many of us would like to see. This is just the first step of many, though, to our voice being heard as decisions get made.

Signed letter from Memphis Restaurant Association

PDF of the signed letter is here.

November 23, 2020
Via Hand Delivery
Dr. Alisa Haushalter, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC
Director, Shelby County Health Department
814 Jefferson Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38105

Re: Memphis Restaurant Association, Inc.
Dear Dr. Haushalter:
I have the pleasure of serving as the Incoming President of the Memphis Restaurant Association (MRA) and will be following the tenure of my colleague Ernie Mellor, whom I understand you have communicated with in the past. As you may already know, the MRA represents its member restaurant operators and supporting businesses of the restaurant industry, which include approximately one hundred sixty-nine (169) restaurants and ninety-four (94) businesses that serve and support the restaurant industry. Please find enclosed a list of names and businesses signing on to this letter representing those that support the pleas included in this letter. Many more will likely join in support after this letter is delivered. We will present these additional signers when we meet next week.

First and foremost, we would like to extend our thanks for your and your department’s diligent efforts in these most unprecedented times to protect the health and safety of all members of our community. Thank you.

The MRA and its members have been and will continue to advocate for the health and safety of our families, staff, and community. We have abided by the letter and intent of all health directives, many of us having gone above and beyond minimum requirements. We have suffered and survived through shutdowns, fear, and intermittent voids of information, often being left to fend for ourselves in our attempts to decipher directives, comply with mandates, and do all that was necessary to care of our employees and our customers.

I write today to ensure that the public discourse and the Health Department’s directives during this pandemic are based in fact and data. We implore you to please help us improve communication, clarity, and understanding and to address our concerns and questions specifically regarding Health Directive 15 and Face Mask Order No. 3 and any future directives which may be forthcoming. Our goal is to strengthen the partnership between our industry, our elected officials, and the Health Department.

Specifically, the MRA’s concerns include the following areas:

Communication: We need an open line of communication to address issues related to these directives and related issues as they arise. In light of the attention focused by the Health Department on our industry, a single, designated point of contact within the Health Department with authority to answer our questions or, at least, obtain and provide answers for us in a clear, consistent, and prompt manner would be appropriate.

Data: We need to understand what metrics are being used to make decisions related to our industry and be allowed access to that data so we can better understand and prepare for what may be coming. Understanding the data upon which you base your crucial decisions allows us, as business owners, the opportunity to support your policies through our interactions with our employees and with the public. Access to the underlying data and an understanding of your application of the data in your decision-making processes will also allow us the opportunity to plan strategically four our businesses and make the difficult decisions, both in the short-term and long-term, with a verifiable basis for those decisions, rather than mere conjecture or speculation. Frankly, we all have heard that these are data-driven decisions being made, it is time for us to see and understand the underlying data.

Timing: Given the “Trip Wires” plan that was issued in August 2020 as the road map to decision making with respect to opening and closing businesses, why are we not given notice and time to plan versus being forced to merely react to the directives? If there is an obvious trend to cross a trip wire, there should be an equally obvious next step that needs to be conveyed to us so that we can communicate to our customers, staff and vendors that change(s) may be coming.

To that end, we respectfully submit that directives posted on a Friday evening with no opportunity to plan or clarify before the implementation the following Monday morning is inexcusable. We need to build a partnership in order for our industry and community to support our leadership, but it is difficult to do so when these tactics are employed to our detriment.

Messaging: We need to generate a positive message to the public; not one that promotes fear. The spread of this virus is not solely due to dining out by any stretch, and we are working hard and at great expense to do our part. The restaurant industry should not be vilified or scapegoated in the process.

Enforcement: First, we need help. We need the Health Department to enforce the directives it is issuing. Asking businesses and their employees to confront people who have chosen to patronize their establishments regarding the customers’ personal behavior is an untenable position. Restaurants have often been left unsure of the specifics of regulations and are, regrettably, being forced to choose where to draw the line between serving our guests and interpreting how far regulations are intended to go.

We ask that you recognize that the vast majority of restaurants are compliant, many going well beyond the standards set. We are a vital part of the Shelby County community and economy and don’t deserve to be lumped together with a few bad actors. Blatant offenders have been reported to the Shelby County Mayor’s Action Center, and by all anecdotal evidence, these reports appear to have been ignored. We understand that you know the identity of the non-compliant restaurants, so why not focus your resources to bring them into compliance without a blanket policy that punishes everyone?

As part of an improved dialogue, the MRA would like to address the following questions with you. We are standing by to address these items in any forum you may deem most appropriate.
a. Are decisions being made solely on a data-driven basis? If so, what metrics are being used. If there are other factors, what are they?

b. What data indicates that restaurants are the “high-risk settings” that we have been designated?

c. Does this data directly link individual restaurants to COVID cases? If so, have those particular businesses been so notified?

d. How many COVID cases has the Health Department directly attributed to exposure in a restaurant via contact tracing or other means of reporting?

e. We have been told by Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) agents that TABC is now involved as additional enforcement and inspection. Is this accurate? If so, how are the efforts of the TABC and the SCHD being directed and by whom?

f. Masks between bites. Is this literal or are guests allowed to leave them off while they have food and drink in front of them? CDC directs us to sanitize when removing masks, and to minimize contact with masks. How are out customers to follow CDC guidelines while masking between bites and sips?

g. With respect to the “household” requirement, is this really saying that co-workers, people on a date, families that live in separate homes, etc. are not allowed to dine together? If so, how would we even begin to enforce this?

We respectfully write to you, not just on behalf of restaurant owners, but on behalf of our staff, our vendor partners and our customers, all of which are stakeholders in the decisions you make. Yes, there are massive economic implications to businesses and tax revenues, but these are the livelihoods of thousands of Memphians. We WANT to be part of the solution. We ask that you help us understand by including us in your considerations and sharing data that helps us help you.
Accordingly, MRA respectfully requests that the “Limited Restrictions for High-Risk Settings” provisions of Health Directive 15 and Section 2(g) of Face Mask Directive 3 be reconsidered and/or that enforcement thereof be stayed pending further review. We further request that no future changes to the requirements in health directives which would affect the restaurant industry be made without prior consultation with the MRA. Our members desire to cooperate, and I am confident that, working together, we can continue to operate restaurants safely and in an economically viable manner.

I can assure you that as our knowledge of the virus develops and the restaurant industry continues to develop best practices for operation in this environment, MRA and its members remain steadfastly committed to immediately modifying their procedures and protocols to remain on the cutting edge of safe operation for their workers and customers. To that end, MRA welcomes further discussion with the Shelby County Health Department or third-party experts to consider potential steps that MRA members could implement which would meet and exceed the public health needs while not further endangering the viability of so many of our business and the livelihoods of our team members.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Your prompt attention to this would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.


Mike Miller
Incoming President
Memphis Restaurant Association, Inc.

cc: Jennifer Sink (via email)
City Attorney

Marlinee Clark Iverson (via email)
County Attorney

Brian Yoakum (via email)
Counsel to Memphis Restaurant Association, Inc.

23 de Noviembre de 2020
A través de la entrega en mano
Dr. Alisa Haushalter, DNP, RN, PHNA-BC
Director del Departamento de Salud del Condado de Shelby
814 Jefferson Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38105

Atención: Asociación de restaurantes de Memphis, Inc

Estimado Dr. Haushalter:

Tengo el placer de servir como Presidente entrante de la Asociación de Restaurantes de Memphis (MRA) y seguiré el mandato de mi colega Ernie Mellor, con quien tengo entendido que se ha comunicado en el pasado. Como ya sabrá, la MRA representa a sus operadores de restaurantes miembros y empresas de apoyo de la industria de restaurantes, que incluyen aproximadamente ciento sesenta y nueve (169) restaurantes y noventa y cuatro (94) negocios que sirven y apoyan a la industria de restaurantes. Adjunto encontrará una lista de nombres y empresas que firman esta carta que representan a aquellos que apoyan las peticiones incluidas en esta carta. Es probable que muchos más se unan en apoyo después de que se entregue esta carta. Presentaremos estos firmantes adicionales cuando nos reunamos la próxima semana.

En primer lugar, nos gustaría extender nuestro agradecimiento por sus esfuerzos diligentes y los de su departamento en estos tiempos sin precedentes para proteger la salud y la seguridad de todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad. Gracias.

La MRA y sus miembros han estado y continuarán abogando por la salud y la seguridad de nuestras familias, personal y comunidad. Hemos cumplido la letra y la intención de todas las directivas de salud, y muchos de nosotros hemos ido más allá de los requisitos mínimos. Hemos sufrido y sobrevivido a los cierres, el miedo y los vacíos intermitentes de información, a menudo dejándonos valernos por nosotros mismos en nuestros intentos de descifrar directivas, cumplir con mandatos y hacer todo lo necesario para cuidar a nuestros empleados y clientes.

Escribo hoy para asegurarme de que el discurso público y las directivas del Departamento de Salud durante esta pandemia se basen en hechos y datos. Le imploramos que nos ayude a mejorar la comunicación, la claridad y la comprensión y que aborde nuestras inquietudes y preguntas específicamente con respecto a la Directiva de salud 15 y la Orden de mascarilla facial No. 3 y cualquier directiva futura que pueda aparecer. Nuestro objetivo es fortalecer la asociación entre nuestra industria, nuestros funcionarios electos y el Departamento de Salud.

Específicamente, las preocupaciones de la MRA incluyen las siguientes áreas:

Comunicación: Necesitamos una línea de comunicación abierta para abordar los problemas relacionados con estas directivas y los problemas relacionados a medida que surgen. A la luz de la atención enfocada por el Departamento de Salud en nuestra industria, un único punto de contacto designado dentro del Departamento de Salud con autoridad para responder nuestras preguntas o, al menos, obtener y brindarnos respuestas de manera clara, consistente y rápida. manera sería apropiada.

Datos: necesitamos comprender qué métricas se están utilizando para tomar decisiones relacionadas con nuestra industria y tener acceso a esos datos para que podamos comprender mejor y prepararnos para lo que pueda venir. Comprender los datos en los que basa sus decisiones cruciales nos permite, como propietarios de negocios, la oportunidad de respaldar sus políticas a través de nuestras interacciones con nuestros empleados y con el público. El acceso a los datos subyacentes y la comprensión de su aplicación de los datos en sus procesos de toma de decisiones también nos permitirá la oportunidad de planificar estratégicamente nuestros negocios y tomar las decisiones difíciles, tanto a corto como a largo plazo, con una base verificable para esas decisiones, en lugar de meras conjeturas o especulaciones. Francamente, todos hemos escuchado que se están tomando decisiones basadas en datos, es hora de que veamos y comprendamos los datos subyacentes.

Tiempo: dado el plan “Trip Wires” que se emitió en agosto de 2020 como la hoja de ruta para la toma de decisiones con respecto a la apertura y cierre de negocios, ¿por qué no se nos da aviso y tiempo para planificar en lugar de ser forzados a simplemente reaccionar a las directivas? Si existe una tendencia obvia a cruzar un cable de conexión, debería haber un próximo paso igualmente obvio que debe ser transmitido a nosotros para que podamos comunicar a nuestros clientes, personal y proveedores que los cambios pueden estar por venir.

Con ese fin, presentamos respetuosamente que las directivas publicadas un viernes por la noche sin oportunidad de planificar o aclarar antes de la implementación el siguiente lunes por la mañana son imperdonables. Necesitamos construir una asociación para que nuestra industria y comunidad apoyen nuestro liderazgo, pero es difícil hacerlo cuando estas tácticas se emplean en nuestro detrimento.

Mensajería: Necesitamos generar un mensaje positivo para el público; no uno que promueva el miedo. La propagación de este virus no se debe únicamente a salir a cenar, y estamos trabajando duro y con un gran gasto para hacer nuestra parte. La industria de los restaurantes no debe ser vilipendiada ni convertida en chivo expiatorio en el proceso.

Cumplimiento: Primero, necesitamos ayuda. Necesitamos que el Departamento de Salud haga cumplir las directivas que está emitiendo. Pedir a las empresas y sus empleados que se enfrenten a las personas que han optado por patrocinar sus establecimientos en relación con el comportamiento personal de los clientes es una posición insostenible. Los restaurantes a menudo no están seguros de los detalles de las regulaciones y, lamentablemente, se ven obligados a elegir dónde trazar la línea divisoria entre servir a nuestros huéspedes e interpretar hasta dónde se pretende llegar con las regulaciones.

Le pedimos que reconozca que la gran mayoría de los restaurantes cumplen con las normas, y muchos van más allá de los estándares establecidos. Somos una parte vital de la comunidad y la economía del condado de Shelby y no merecemos ser agrupados con algunos malos actores. Se ha denunciado a infractores flagrantes al Centro de Acción del Alcalde del Condado de Shelby y, según toda la evidencia anecdótica, estos informes parecen haber sido ignorados. Entendemos que usted conoce la identidad de los restaurantes que no cumplen, así que, ¿por qué no concentrar sus recursos para hacerlos cumplir sin una política general que castigue a todos?

Como parte de un diálogo mejorado, a la MRA le gustaría abordar las siguientes preguntas con usted. Estamos preparados para abordar estos temas en cualquier foro que considere más apropiado.

¿Las decisiones se toman únicamente en base a datos? Si es así, qué métricas se están utilizando. Si hay otros factores, ¿cuáles son?

¿Qué datos indican que los restaurantes son los “entornos de alto riesgo” que hemos sido designados?

¿Estos datos vinculan directamente restaurantes individuales con casos de COVID? Si es así, ¿se ha notificado a esas empresas en particular?

¿Cuántos casos de COVID ha atribuido el Departamento de Salud directamente a la exposición en un restaurante a través del rastreo de contactos u otros medios de notificación?

Los agentes de la Comisión de Bebidas Alcohólicas de Tennessee (TABC, por sus siglas en inglés) nos han dicho que la TABC ahora está involucrada como fiscalización e inspección adicionales. ¿Es esto exacto? Si es así, ¿cómo están dirigidos los esfuerzos del TABC y del SCHD y por quién?

Máscaras entre bocados. ¿Es esto literal o los invitados pueden dejarlos mientras tienen comida y bebida frente a ellos? Los CDC nos indican que desinfectemos al quitar las máscaras y que minimicemos el contacto con las máscaras. ¿Cómo pueden nuestros clientes seguir las pautas de los CDC mientras se enmascaran entre bocado y sorbo?

Con respecto al requisito de “hogar”, ¿esto realmente significa que los compañeros de trabajo, las personas que tienen una cita, las familias que viven en hogares separados, etc. no pueden cenar juntos? Si es así, ¿cómo empezaríamos a hacer cumplir esto?

Le escribimos respetuosamente, no solo en nombre de los propietarios de restaurantes, sino en nombre de nuestro personal, nuestros socios proveedores y nuestros clientes, todos los cuales son partes interesadas en las decisiones que toma. Sí, existen enormes implicaciones económicas para las empresas y los ingresos fiscales, pero estos son los medios de vida de miles de habitantes de Memphis. QUEREMOS ser parte de la solución. Le pedimos que nos ayude a comprender incluyéndonos en sus consideraciones y compartiendo datos que nos ayuden a ayudarlo.
En consecuencia, la MRA solicita respetuosamente que se reconsideren las disposiciones sobre “Restricciones limitadas para entornos de alto riesgo” de la Directiva de salud 15 y la Sección 2 (g) de la Directiva de mascarillas faciales 3 y / o que se suspenda su aplicación en espera de una revisión adicional. Además, solicitamos que no se realicen cambios futuros a los requisitos en las directivas de salud que afectarían a la industria de restaurantes sin consultar previamente con la MRA. Nuestros miembros desean cooperar y estoy seguro de que, trabajando juntos, podemos seguir operando restaurantes de manera segura y económicamente viable.

Puedo asegurarles que a medida que se desarrolla nuestro conocimiento del virus y la industria de restaurantes continúa desarrollando las mejores prácticas para operar en este entorno, MRA y sus miembros siguen firmemente comprometidos a modificar de inmediato sus procedimientos y protocolos para permanecer a la vanguardia de la operación segura. para sus trabajadores y clientes. Con ese fin, la MRA da la bienvenida a una nueva discusión con el Departamento de Salud del Condado de Shelby o con expertos externos para considerar los pasos potenciales que los miembros de la MRA podrían implementar y que cumplirían y superarían las necesidades de salud pública sin poner en peligro aún más la viabilidad de muchos de nuestros negocios y los medios de vida de los miembros de nuestro equipo.

Gracias por su tiempo y atención a este asunto. Su pronta atención a esto será muy apreciada. Espero escuchar de usted.

Mike Miller
Presidente entrante
Asociación de restaurantes de Memphis, Inc

cc: Jennifer Sink (A través del correol: jennifer.sink@memphistn.gov)
Abogada de la ciudad

Marlinee Clark Iverson (A través del correol: marlinee.iverson@shelbycountytn.gov)
Abogada del condado

Brian Yoakum (A través del correol:: byoakum@evanspetree.com)
Asesores legales de la Asociación de restaurantes de Memphis, Inc

Front Door Printable for HD 15

hd 15

The new Health Directive effective Monday, November 23, 2020 states:

Mask is required for entry, patrons are required to wear masks at all times except when actually eating a bite of food or drinking a beverage.

Our capacity is limited to 50%.
We close at 10pm.

No more than 6 guests (with a maximum of 4 adults) may be seated at the same table, and they must be of the same household.

Click here to print a sign for your front door.

hd 15

This is a link to the formal Health Directive.