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FAQ: How restaurants, bars and food trucks can win new federal grants

Morning Rose Cafe owner Rose Tzanetos said she

Morning Rose Cafe owner Rose Tzanetos said she will consider applying for one of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is taking applications for a COVID-19 relief program for restaurants, bars and caterers.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, or RRF, has nearly $29 billion in grants to distribute nationwide. Businesses may receive up to $10 million to make up for revenue losses during the pandemic.

In Bellmore, Rose Tzanetos, owner and manager of Morning Rose Cafe, said she plans to look into the program, which was established on March 11 by Congress and President Joe Biden. The program opened on May 3.

Tzanetos said she closed her gourmet brunch restaurant from mid-March to late May last year and again in January-February due to the pandemic. The eight-year-old business’ revenue last year was half of what it was in 2019 — but diners have since returned, and 10 of 11 employees are back on the job, she said.

"Yes, I could use a grant because everything’s costing me a fortune," Tzanetos said, referring to expenses tied to keeping customers and employees safe. "I didn’t make any money last year. I lost money."

If Tzanetos applies for the RRF and receives a grant, she said she would spend the money on "improving my business, making it better." She recently applied for a license to serve alcohol.

SBA officials said the agency will accept applications for the RRF until all the funding is distributed. A business may only apply once for the program.

More information, including the online application, may be found at sba.gov/restaurants.

What are the minimum and maximum grant amounts?

$1,000 and $10 million per applicant.

Does the grant have to be repaid?

Only if the money isn’t used for eligible expenses by March 11, 2023.

Is SBA processing some applications ahead of others?

The agency is only approving applications from businesses that are owned by women, veterans and members of minority groups or are in poor neighborhoods through May 23. However, business owners shouldn’t wait because applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning May 24.

Has money been set aside for the smallest restaurants and bars?

$5 billion in grants are reserved for businesses with 2019 gross receipts of $500,000 or less; $4 billion is for those with receipts of $501,000 to $1.5 million, and $500 million for those with receipts of $50,000 or less.

Are snack bars and food trucks eligible?

Yes.

Are brewpubs, tasting rooms, wineries and inns eligible?

Yes, if at least 33% of their gross receipts come from selling food or beverages to consumers who go to their physical location.

Can a business that received a Paycheck Protection Program loan also win an RRF grant?

Yes, but the amount will be reduced by the PPP loan amount.

Is a business that applied for or secured a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, or SVOG, also eligible for the RRF?

No.

Does a business have to register with the federal government’s contracting website, System for Award Management, and have a Dun & Bradstreet number to apply for the RRF?

No, though these are required for another grant program, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants.

What documents must accompany the RRF application?

Applicants must complete IRS Form 4506-T so the SBA can access their income tax form. They also must demonstrate a drop in gross receipts last year compared with 2019.

Five COVID-19 relief programs for eateries, bars

Government at all levels is offering grants and tax credits to help restaurants and bars survive the pandemic. Some of the programs are exclusively for the smallest establishments.

FEDERAL

RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND

Eligibility Open to restaurants, bars, caterers

Available funding $28.6 billion in grants

Maximum award Up to $10 million per business

Application deadline Until the money runs out

Website sba.gov/restaurants

NASSAU COUNTY

RESTAURANT RECOVERY GRANT PROGRAM

Eligibility Open to restaurants and small banquet halls with 50 or fewer employees

Available funding About $500,000 in grants

Maximum award $5,000 or $10,000 depending on the size of the workforce

Application deadline Until the money runs out

Website nassaucountyny.gov/restaurantrecovery

SUFFOLK COUNTY

SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE GRANT PROGRAM

Eligibility Open to restaurants, bars, taverns, gyms, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons with 50 or fewer employees and located in the towns of Riverhead and Southold or in portions of the towns of East Hampton, Smithtown, Southampton and Shelter Island.

Available funding $500,000 in grants

Maximum award $5,000 or $10,000 depending on the size of the workforce

Application deadline Until the money runs out

Website suffolkcountyny.gov/BRU

NEW YORK STATE

RESTAURANT RESILIENCY GRANT PROGRAM

Eligibility Open to restaurants that provide meals to distressed and under-represented communities

Available funding $25 million in grants

Application deadline Hadn’t opened as of May 3

Website esd.ny.gov

RESTAURANT RETURN-TO-WORK TAX CREDIT

Eligibility TBA

Available funding $35 million in state tax credits to support restaurants hard hit by the pandemic

Application deadline Hadn’t opened as of May 3

Website esd.ny.gov

Compiled by James T. Madore

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