Many small businesses have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, with restaurants among the hardest hit.
Many restaurants have closed because of a loss of business and Central Florida leaders have tried to support those small businesses. Early on in the pandemic, restaurants were able to apply for money through the Paycheck Protection Program, but they were also competing with other small businesses for that money.
Now, the federal government is opening up a new program aimed specifically at helping the foodservice industry, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
According to a National Restaurant Association news release, the fund is made up of $28.6 billion set aside as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The distribution of the money is being handled by the Small Business Administration.
“This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023,” according to the SBA’s website.
The money from the fund is available to restaurants, food stands/trucks/carts, caterers, saloons/bars/taprooms or similar businesses in which people gather for the primary purpose of being served food or drink, according to the restaurant association.
During the first 21 days after the fund opens for applications, priority will be given to businesses owned by women, veterans or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals — which the SBA defines as “those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities” and “those socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same business area who are not socially disadvantaged.”
The application portal for the fund is set to begin operation on Friday at 9 a.m. and applications will open on Monday at noon.
According to the SBA website, the funds from this program may be used for the following:
- Business payroll costs (including sick leave)
- Payments on any business mortgage obligation
- Business rent payments (note: this does not include prepayment of rent)
- Business debt service (both principal and interest; note: this does not include any prepayment of principal or interest)
- Business utility payments
- Business maintenance expenses
- Construction of outdoor seating
- Business supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials)
- Business food and beverage expenses (including raw materials)
- Covered supplier costs
- Business operating expenses