By Da Lin

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — Amid a surge in omicron cases and soaring costs because of supply chain issues, city leaders and restaurant industry officials have issued a dire warning that a wave of San Francisco Bay Area independent restaurants and bars could shut down for good unless Congress steps in again.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition and 25 current and former U.S. mayors including those San Rafael’s Kate Colin, Oakland’s Libby Schaaf and San Francisco’s London Breed sent a letter to members of Congress on Friday.

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They asked the federal government to give out another round of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Last year, that fund helped more than 100,000 restaurants, but it ran out of money and 177,000 applicants were turned away.

“They could close,” said Laurie Thomas, the executive director of Golden Gate Restaurant Association. “The IRC did a survey a couple of months ago, and out of the people that didn’t get (the federal money,) 85% weren’t sure they could continue.”

But experts said the request for more federal money is a long shot.

“It’s just really important we keep the pressure on,” Thomas said. “You don’t get anything if everybody just agrees to give up and go away.”

Many bars and restaurants said business is slowing down due to the omicron variant.

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“With omicron, it almost feels like March, 2020. People are just being more cautious and going out less,” said Mark Edwards, owner of Revel and Roost in Downtown San Rafael.

He said on average, they’re doing about 50 percent of the business compared to pre-pandemic levels. Some people said because of omicron, they’re avoiding restaurants because it’s too cold to eat outside.

“I want to protect the people around us,” said San Rafael resident Sydney Jennings. “Stay home, stay safe.”

She said her family is mostly ordering take-outs.

“We’ll go out maybe once a month, maybe once or twice a month at most,” Jennings said. “But we really just try to stay at home when we can and just dine in.”

With fewer customers and rising food prices, the restaurant industry said it needs help.

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“If we just got a little bit (of new federal money) now, it would carry us through the next three to six months,” said Edwards. “I think from there, I think we’d be safe.”