Coronavirus Update for Restaurants in Wisconsin

With the ongoing and increased uncertainty over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), here at the WRA our primary focus is – and will continue to be – to educate and support our restaurant and supplier partners through this difficult and challenging time. We are taking proactive measures to advocate for and alert members to changing policies, guidelines and best practices.

WRA has put together helpful resources targeted for employers, employees and others in the industry. Please check back often as we will continue to update this website as new information comes available and new developments arise.

Resources for Restaurants

Find the latest information, resources and support materials for restaurants on operating during the pandemic.

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Ready_to_Serve_Safely_logoREAdy to serve safely

Because the survival of so many restaurants is at stake – the Wisconsin Restaurant Association created the “Ready to Serve Safely” statewide marketing campaign to rally public support for restaurants and increase the number of diners to restaurants for dine in, carry out, delivery and curbside experiences. The core of the campaign features and promotes restaurants who have committed to following all public health safety guidelines, state/local mandates and best COVID-19 mitigation practices.

Info for Restaurants

Info for Diners

Resources for Restaurant Employees

Important resources on unemployment benefits, supplemental food programs, health insurance, temporary job listings and mental health resources.

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Wisconsin Eats – WRA Dining Guide

Looking for a place to dine?  Check out the WRA Dining Guide of Member Restaurants.  Search by city, zip code, type of cuisine offered and more.  Services and hours for restaurants vary right now, so make sure to call ahead for details.

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All around our communities people are pulling together, helping each other, adapting and thinking outside the box.  Take a moment to hear some feel good stories and innovative strategies that restaurant businesses are implementing to keep their business going and to be there for their communities.



Ask WRA logo horiz

Check out these answers to restaurant operations questions that are frequently asked of our Ask WRA team.

See Q&A’s


What the federal relief package means for restaurants

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association along with the National Restaurant Association has worked hard for months to get Congress to take action and provide financial aid to both restaurant owners and our industry’s employees. Many WRA members reached out via email and phone and told your stories of how the pandemic and lack of government support has hurt your businesses. Your messages were heard and the restaurant industry does benefit from the $900 billion bill released on December 21st and signed by President Trump on December 27th.


Congress’ relief bill provides short-term economic relief and should be considered a down payment on longer term relief to be negotiated in February. The plan includes several items that will benefit restaurants, most importantly a second round of access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with unique provisions aimed to assist the restaurant industry, which continues to endure unparalleled job and revenue losses.


The measures provided in this package will benefit restaurants and will give you options to consider as more details about the various programs are rolled out. All indications are that businesses will be able to access relief programs sometime in January, after various federal agencies provide guidance on how the programs will be implemented.


Here is what is contained in the bill – as we learn more, we will continue to keep you informed.


>Creates a $325 billion second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – with improvements over the first rounds from last spring

  • Restaurants can borrow 3.5-times their monthly payroll – as opposed to other businesses, which is 2.5-times
  • Restaurants and hotels are eligible for PPP based on 300 employees per location – unlike other businesses, which is 300 employees total. There are protections for restaurant groups – no affiliation rule problems
  • Qualified business expenses paid with PPP loans (both round 1 and round 2) are tax deductible – this is huge win for the restaurant industry and will save restaurants from paying taxes on forgiven PPP loans from prior and future rounds
  • $2 million cap on an entity’s maximum loan - $10 million for restaurant groups.
  • 60% payroll / 40% non-payroll rules still apply for permitted uses of PPP loans. Non-payroll uses expanded to include PPE supplies, physical changes to enable social distancing, and supplier costs (e.g., inventory). The expansion of loan uses is another huge win for restaurants
  • PPP loan borrowers can choose between two covered periods in which to spend the loan; an eight week period or a 24 week period

>Expands funding and improves access to other Small Business Administration loan programs


>Restores deductibility of business meals for two years. This is another restaurant specific win that will help with economic recovery


>Enhances Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)


>Provides additional $300/week unemployment benefits through March 14, 2021


>Provides direct payments to taxpayers making less than $75,000 per year and their dependents


The bill does not address other industry specific concerns, such as business liability protection. These battles will return in February.


The National Restaurant Association hosted a webinar that highlighted what's included in the bill and what it means for restaurants.  You can sign up for the on demand webinar here


Fact Sheet from the National Restaurant Association   


Update on Current Regulations in Wisconsin

With all the different COVID-19 state mandates and related lawsuits, many restaurant operators may be unclear what is currently in effect in Wisconsin. Here's an update on what restaurants currently need to follow (as of 12/14/2020):

The Governor’s Current order requiring face masks is in effect until Nov. 21 - Governor Evers extended the statewide mask mandate into mid-January

  • The statewide order to limit indoor gathering capacity to 25 percent expired on November 6
  • Local orders are still in place

WRA advises restaurants to continue to follow the recommendations set forth by the National Restaurant Association, WEDC and FDA in addition to following all local and state mandates.

National Restaurant Association Guidelines
WEDC General Guidelines
WEDC Guidelines for Restaurants & Foodservice
FDA Guidelines
More Guidelines and Info on the WRA Website 

Questions? Email or call the Ask WRA Team at 608-270-9950.

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Single-use Menus

Customers will decide when it feels safe to dine in your restaurants. Providing single-use menus may be one way to earn their trust and show you care. Ask for Wisconsin Restaurant Association pricing when emailing for info.

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Are you grappling with the issue of an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive? You're not alone. Our Ask WRA Team has received quite a few questions from restaurant operators about this topic.  WRA provides resources with the latest guidance on how to handle the situation.

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Our Purpose

We Provide the Services and Tools for Members to be Successful

WRA membership includes thousands of foodservice businesses representing virtually every size and style of establishment in the state. Restaurateur members include fine dining establishments, mom-and-pop supper clubs, small cafes, fast food outlets, corporate chain restaurants, institutional foodservice operations, catering businesses and hotel and motel foodservices, to name a few. In addition to restaurateur and foodservice operators, WRA has hundreds of Supplier Associate Members that provide goods and services to the restaurant industry.

By uniting in an association, members gain access to information and services to help them better run and promote their businesses. And, a strong membership gives WRA powerful support in pursuing its mission to provide members the services and tools to be successful through advocacy, education and communication.



Discounts on office supplies, technology, email marketing and shipping

Exclusive Member Discounts

WRA is proud to announce that we have partnered with new providers and members can now save on things like office supplies, technology, email marketing and shipping.

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Owner and Chef Discussion


Now Hiring—Resources for Employee Recruitment

We've heard from our members that staffing is the number one concern right now for restaurant operators. It's time to think outside the box on how to tackle this challenge. WRA offers resources for employee recruitment and managing a multigenerational workforce with some ideas you may not have thought about before.

Workforce Portal