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Velazquez Announces New York Independent Restaurant Chef and Owner as Virtual Guest to Presidential Joint Session

Velazquez Invites Amanda Cohen of Restaurant "Dirt Candy" as Virtual Guest to President Biden’s Joint Address to Congress 100 Days into Administration
April 28, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has invited local New York City restaurant chef and owner Amanda Cohen to be her virtual guest to tonight's presidential address. Cohen is the chef and owner of Dirt Candy, a fine dining vegetarian restaurant in Velázquez's district. In July of 2020, Cohen testified in front of the House Small Business Committee, which Velázquez chairs, on how receiving early relief during the pandemic helped her business survive. 

"Amanda represents one of the thousands of small restaurant owners who has navigated operating during the pandemic, while looking out for the wellbeing of her employees and customers," said Velázquez. "We know the road to recovery has been very challenging, and that's why I fought tooth and nail for hundreds of billions of dollars in small business relief throughout the pandemic. From the Paycheck Protection Program, to the EIDL loans and grants, and now to the relief grants included in the American Rescue Plan that are on their way to small businesses in coming weeks. New Yorkers like Amanda are the true heroes of this recovery, and I am proud to uplift her as my virtual guest to the Presidential Address." 

The Joint Address, which is President Biden’s first speech to a Joint Session of Congress, marks 100 days into the President’s first term. In the past, Members of Congress have often invited constituents to join them as guests to such speeches. While COVID-19 safety protocols mean this year’s in-person attendance will be limited, Velázquez wanted to be sure to invite Cohen to uplift the stories of New York City restaurant owners who have faced unprecedented challenges during the last year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, the Small Business Administration announced that applications will open on Monday, May 3rd for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which includes $28.6 billion to help restaurants get direct relief in the form of a grant and was part of the American Rescue Plan. These grants will go a long way in helping New York City's small and independent restaurants reopen their doors, bring back employees, and serve customers, all while doing so in a way that is safe and in line with local protocols. As Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, Velázquez worked hard to make sure that restaurant grants and grants for shuttered small entertainment venues were a part of the relief plan. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local communities and cannot be left behind as America moves forward to build back better from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.