The Small Business Administration (SBA) began distributing USD 83 million (EUR 80 million) in unobligated Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants to U.S. restaurants last week.
Nearly 170 restaurants will receive the remaining funds in the program. The RRF has helped more than 100,000 restaurants and food and beverage business owners survive the Covid-19 pandemic, the SBA said in a press release.
The RRF is a USD 28.6 billion (EUR 25.5 billion) grant program for struggling restaurants and bars that U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law in 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan.
Even though nearly 300,000 restaurants and bars applied for RRF grants in 2021, only about one in three applicants received relief, the Independent Restaurant Coalition said. The National Restaurant Associaton and the IRC consistently urged the SBA to release the funds.
“The SBA’s action represents the final chapter of our nearly three-year effort to secure dedicated federal pandemic relief dollars for local restaurants. Today’s announcement is great news for those 169 operators fortunate enough to receive an RRF grant, but hundreds of thousands more are struggling with uncertainty,” NRA Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy said in a press release.
The “enormous challenges” restaurants still face include “constantly rising” food costs and recruitment of employees, Kennedy said.
"There are steps the government can take to support restaurants in every community, and we will continue to press for solutions at the federal, state, and local level," Kennedy said.
More than 8 million industry employees were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic, and the industry still has not recreated 565,000 jobs lost at that time – the largest current employment deficit caused by the pandemic among all U.S. industries, the NRA said. Nationwide, more than 90,000 restaurants closed permanently or long-term because of the pandemic.
The RRF grants are being released to operators in the order their applications were received, the NRA said. Operators have until March 2023 to spend the money.
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