SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – A powerful new commercial says restaurants are facing extinction and Congress must pass a relief bill to help pay workers, rent, utilities and ultimately save 16 million food service jobs.

In an ad voiced by actor Morgan Freeman, the Independent Restaurant Coalition is calling on Congress to pass the RESTAURANTS Act to save the industry.

“The COVID-19 crisis threatens to permanently close 85 percent of independent restaurants — 16 million people risk losing their jobs — disproportionately impacting people of color and single mothers,” said Freeman in the ad.

If the owner of San Francisco’s Perbacco and sister restaurant Barbacco, Umberto Gibin didn’t make the decision to close temporarily in mid-July, he would have run out of money from his PPP loan.

“Emotionally, it is draining because every day is a different story,” said Gibin.

He says having limited outdoor seating in the Financial District and takeout service wasn’t enough to ride out the wave of uncertainty.

“That’s why we stopped, so we can keep the money that we have, and be able to attack the challenges that we have at that time,” he said.

He plans to re-strategize, and re-open after Labor Day.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition is fighting to establish a $120 billion fund to help restaurants through the RESTAURANTS Act, which has bipartisan support.

Che Fico owner David Nayfeld is on the IRC advisory board.

“When you look at the airline industry, you look at cruise lines, you look at banks, you look at car manufacturers, none of those businesses employ nearly a fraction of what independent restaurants do,” said Nayfeld. “If you look at an independent restaurant, that money is going to go directly to the local community.”

Nayfeld is urging people to call their congressional representatives, and push for the passing of the RESTAURANTS Act.

In California, 900,000 restaurant workers have already lost their jobs.

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