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Nassau reopens COVID grant program for struggling restaurants

Restaurants facing challenges during the winter months could

Restaurants facing challenges during the winter months could get a "boost" from the grants, Nassau Executive Laura Curran said. Seen here, diners at Bar Frite in Greenvale on Dec. 22, 2020.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nassau County has reopened a grant program for restaurants that are struggling to survive the pandemic this winter, County Executive Laura Curran announced on Wednesday.

The county has enough federal Community Block Grant funds to provide grants to an additional 125 or so restaurants, said Curran spokeswoman Justine DiGiglio-Cifarelli, adding more than 150 were approved for funding earlier.

She said Nassau is again accepting applications for its Restaurant Recovery Grant Program because some previous applicants didn’t meet the eligibility requirements or didn’t respond to follow-up questions from the county and grants administrator National Development Council in Manhattan.

The program began in November with $2.2 million in federal block grant funds. No additional money is being put into the program, DiGiglio-Cifarelli said, adding 60% of the eligible restaurants will receive $10,000 grants and 40% will receive $5,000.

To apply, go to nwsdy.li/grants.

Curran said prior applicants should go to nwsdy.li/recovery to find out if they’ve been approved. If the restaurant isn’t on the list, she said, "they must get in touch ASAP to complete their application" by calling 646-825-9617 or sending an email to nassaurestaurants@ndconline.org.

"A staggering 82,000 people on Long Island that work in the restaurant and hospitality industry lost their jobs due to the pandemic," Curran said. "And despite the creative efforts of our restaurant owners with igloos and heaters, outdoor dining is no longer going to sustain them, and that number could get higher. I hope that this [grant] program can provide a boost for our restaurants as they face new challenges during the difficult winter months."

Curran also released a letter on Tuesday to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo requesting that he extend to midnight the 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants, bars and other businesses to help slow the coronavirus’ spread.

"By limiting controlled, safe gatherings at restaurants, my concern is that more residents will be tempted to host or attend private social gatherings, which are responsible for a large majority of [the COVID-19] cases," she wrote.

Separately, a spokeswoman for Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, confirmed its grant program for restaurants has exhausted the initial funding of $3 million from two liquor distributors, Diageo North America in Manhattan and Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits in Miami. The parent of the latter has a warehouse in Syosset.

The Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund was expected to help about 600 restaurants statewide with grants of up to $5,000 per applicant.

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