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Growing concerns that pandemic could lead to closure of black-owned restaurants

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Black restaurant owners are speaking out amid growing concern that the pandemic could force more restaurants to close. Even though indoor dining is reopening, Connecticut restaurants are still hurting.

As some restaurants prepare to open indoor dining on Wednesday, there’s growing concern that minority restaurant owners might be left behind.

“I get a call on a day right now of a restaurant that’s like ‘Scott, I tried but I can’t make it,'” said Scott Dolch, Connecticut Restaurant Association.

On Monday, political leaders stopped by black owned Uncle Joe’s in Bridgeport.

On Tuesday, a first of its kind webinar between The Connecticut Restaurant Association and black restaurant owners who feel it’s time to get more resources into the hands of minority owners ahead of phase two reopening.

“We felt that the Governor’s office was not setting down information or resources to our community in an appropriate manner,” said Jason Teal, Owner, Bomb Wings & Rice Bar, Hamden. “Us as black and Hispanic owned businesses, we need to be telling the Connecticut Restaurant Association what we need as well so they can fight for us too.”

The association has worked with the governor’s office to effectively lobby for to-go cocktails, three months of deferred sales tax, and expanded outdoor seating options amid the pandemic.

Still, many restaurant owners were carrying heavy debt when they had to close their doors three months ago. And still growing concern that black-owned restaurants could be among those that don’t make it.

“They think ‘oh 25 or 30 percent of restaurants won’t it.’ And if that number is true, take into account our state, we’re talking about almost 2,000 restaurants in Connecticut could not make it through this pandemic. I lose sleep about that at night,” said Dolch.

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