Restaurateur Edgar Viera plans to use a $5,000 grant from Suffolk County to pay utility bills, rent and employee salaries for his Javier’s Café as the economy slowly recovers from the pandemic.
"These funds are going to help a lot," he said on Friday at his restaurant on Main Street in Smithtown. "This will help keep us going. It’s been a very, very difficult year."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone visited the restaurant to announce the second phase of a $1 million grant program to help gyms, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, bars, taverns and restaurants to survive. Up to $500,000 in federal money will be distributed to firms that can show a revenue loss because of the COVID-19 lockdown and are in a qualifying town.
Javier’s Café is among 67 businesses sharing in the first $500,000. Most of the grant recipients have been restaurants.
More information about Suffolk’s Small Business Assistance Grant Program may be found at suffolkcountyny.gov/BRU.
Bellone said grants of up to $5,000 would go to eligible businesses with 10 employees or fewer while grants of up to $10,000 would go to businesses with 11 to 50 employees.
Eligible businesses must be in the towns of Riverhead and Southold or in portions of the towns of East Hampton, Smithtown, Southampton and Shelter Island because of federal rules about how the money may be given out.
"Every bit helps," Bellone said. "Nothing is a panacea here, but we have to keep working and supporting small business."
Asked if there would be future grant programs, he said the county "anticipates there are going to be more needs …[and] we will announce new rounds of programs and maybe new programs."
Applications will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis, according to Rebecca Sinclair, the county’s deputy commissioner for economic development. Priority will be given to businesses that haven't received a Suffolk grant, she said.
Brian Karppinen, owner of Katie’s of Smithtown, a bar and live music venue, said he would use his $5,000 grant to pay the electric bill and purchase alcohol. The Main Street bar is struggling because it hasn’t had events for seven months.
The Suffolk grant "definitely helps; it provides a little breathing room," Karppinen said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Katie's of Smithtown.
AT A GLANCE
Suffolk County Small Business Assistance Grant Program
Who it's for: gyms, hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, restaurants, bars and taverns in some Suffolk towns
How much money: up to $5,000 for businesses with 10 or fewer employees; up to $10,000 for businesses with 11 to 50 employees
Where to apply: suffolkcountyny.gov/BRU