The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that it has started the approval and distribution of the first wave of money disbursements to applicants to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The SBA said it will be awarding around $2 billion worth of grants to 16,000 restaurants, and related operators who will begin receiving funds in their bank accounts today.
“We know that this help is urgently needed by so many who have suffered disproportionately from this pandemic and have often been unable to access relief,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.
“Restaurants are the core of our neighborhoods and propel economic activity on Main Streets across the nation. The SBA is here to help them build resilience to survive this pandemic as we get our economy back on track.”
Last week American president, Joe Biden described the amount of restaurant applicants as a “staggering number” referring to the estimated 186,000 restaurants, bars, and other foodservice businesses that applied within the first two days of the program’s launch.
Under the RRF, restaurants are eligible for funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue losses, capped at $10 million per business and $5 million per location. The SBA will continue to fund approved applications until all funds have been exhausted.
In an interview with The New York Times, Guzman said “We need to demonstrate that demand, and we need to encourage everyone to apply and access this fund as much as possible and demonstrate what remaining need is out there.”
According to the government, more than half of the initial applications came from women (46,400), veterans (4,200), socially or economically individuals (30,800), or some combination of all three (16,200).
The SBA said for the first 21 days of the program, it will prioritize women, veterans, as well as socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, with all other applicants being considered following the initial round.
“Awarding grants within a week of restaurants and bars applying demonstrates the SBA’s steadfast commitment to getting people the help they need as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Erika Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, said in a statement reported by Restaurant Hospitality.
“Restaurants and bars across the country are devastated after the last 16 months of this pandemic and, until this week, have been unable to access the meaningful relief needed to stay afloat.”
Interested onsite food establishments may still apply through SBA-recognized POS vendors or directly via the SBA online application portal at restaurants.sba.gov.