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Restaurants, bars may start applying for federal COVID-19 grants on Monday

Restaurants, bars and caterers can apply for nearly

Restaurants, bars and caterers can apply for nearly $29 billion in COVID-19 relief grants starting Monday. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The federal government will begin taking applications from restaurants, bars and caterers on Monday at noon for nearly $29 billion in COVID-19 relief grants, officials said.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, or RRF, will provide funding of up to $10 million per business to make up for revenue losses during the pandemic. For businesses with multiple locations, the grant is $5 million or less per location.

The funds may be used to pay employee wages, mortgage and rent payments, utility bills, outstanding debts, construction of outdoor seating and other operating expenses. The money must be used by March 11, 2023, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which runs the RRF.

What to know

  • The $29 billion RRF grant program opens for applications on Monday at noon.
  • Grants are up to $10 million per applicant.
  • Program aims to help hard-hit restaurants and bars survive the pandemic.

SBA officials are encouraging business owners to register for an RRF account before the online application portal opens. Owners can register at restaurants.sba.gov, starting on Friday at 9 a.m. Those receiving help with their applications from Square, Toast, Clover, NCR Corporation and other point-of-sale companies don’t need to register early.

In Huntington village on Wednesday, Daniel Pedisch, owner of Konaba restaurant, said, "I'm absolutely planning to apply for [the RRF] because we had a six-month revenue gap from March through August last year. Things started picking up in September but [sales] aren't back to their 2019 level and I don't know if they ever will be."

Pedisch estimated that he's eligible for a $100,000 RRF grant. If the money comes through, he said he would put it toward rent and repaying an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA.

"I'll take anything that they will give me because I need it," Pedisch said.

Restaurants 'need support to survive'

SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said restaurants "are among the businesses that have been hardest hit and need support to survive."

She added, "We are committed to equity and to ensure our smaller and underserved businesses, which have suffered the most, can access this critical relief, recover and grow more resilient."

Guzman said until May 24 the agency will only process RRF applications from businesses that are owned by women, veterans or members of minority groups or are in poor communities.

In addition, $9.5 billion, or 33%, of the funding has been set aside for the smallest restaurants and bars with 2019 gross receipts of $1.5 million or less in 2019.

Wineries, brewpubs, bakeries and inns are eligible for RRF grants if 33% or more of their 2019 gross receipts were derived from on premise sales to consumers.

The RRF was established by Congress and President Joe Biden last month. More information is available at sba.gov/restaurants.

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program reopens

Separately, nearly 8,000 applications were submitted by independent movie theaters, museums, concert halls and other live performance spaces in the first 24 hours after SBA's Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program reopened this week, said Matt Coleman, a spokesman for the agency's Region II, which includes New York State.

The COVID relief program was suspended earlier this month after its online portal was unable to accept any applications.

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