Group cries foul on congressional restaurant funding going to non-food focused businesses

Published on
July 14, 2021

Many small independent restaurants were left out of the most recent round of United States government funding via the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Instead, the group claims many non-food-focused businesses such as management companies, hotel chains, and recreational facilities obtained funding they shouldn't have.

Sixty-seven businesses received a USD 10 million (EUR 8.5 million) RRF grant –the most money a business entity could receive. They included Lucky Strike Entertainment, a 16-unit bowling alley chain; Windsor Hospitality, a Marriott/Embassy Suites hotel management company; the foodservice establishments within the France pavilion at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida; Sweet Hospitality Group, a concessions company for Broadway theater; franchisees of McDonald’s, Jimmy John’s, Panera Bread, Dunkin, and Golden Corral; and eight airport and sports venue concessions companies, Nation’s Restaurant News reported.

Many large restaurant groups also received RRF grants of more than USD 1 million (EUR 846,000). They include: Momofuku Restaurant Group, receiving USD 6.8 million (EUR 5.7 million); Peter Luger Steakhouse, receiving USD 5 million (EUR 5.2 million); PJ Clarke’s, also receiving USD 5 million; Alinea, receiving USD 2.2 million (EUR 1.9 million), and Atelier Crenn, receiving USD 2 million.

"We are concerned … About the number of ineligible businesses such as recreation facilities, management companies, and hotel chains who received grants from the SBA,” IRC Executive Director Erika Polmar said in a press release. “Congress clearly spelled out that only eating and drinking places should qualify for relief.”

IRC is urging Congress to grant an additional USD 60 billon (EUR 51 billion) to refill the RRF, which quickly ran out after the application date opened. More than 177,000 restaurants are on the brink of permanent closure, according to the IRC.

“When refilling the fund, we urge Congress to make the necessary changes that will ensure only restaurants and bars receive additional funding in the future,” Polmar said.

Less than one-third of the largest grants went to prioritization groups, which included women, socially disadvantaged people, and veterans, according to the Nation’s Restaurant News. Around one-third of the 67 largest grant recipients were from one or more of the original prioritization groups.  

Photo courtesy of Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock

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