By Robert Medley
Funds may soon be available to help area restaurants recover from the economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Small Business Administration will take applications at noon, Monday, May 3 for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman has announced.
In Yukon, Troy Strickland has survived the pandemic with four Subway Restaurants. He had to close one restaurant location in the 1300 block of W. Vandament Ave. about three weeks ago. There were a number of factors in the decision, including staffing problems.
But the other four locations he has, two in Yukon, one in Surrey Hills and one in Piedmont, have made it through the downturn.
Strickland said he was eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program and the Subway Restaurants. The loan was forgiven. And now, Strickland said he does not need the RRF program, fortunately.
“We have gotten through it and hopefully this light at the end of the tunnel is not another train,” Strickland said.
He said business has picked up and stayed steady.
“We are right back on track to where we need to be now,” Strickland said. “We know that in this area we have made a recovery and arewhere we were two years ago.”
He said sales did slow down at the restaurants over the past year.
For others who may need help for restaurant businesses, the online application will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted, according to an SBA news release.
Funds will be prioritized for direct relief to women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and include $9.5 billion in set-asides for smaller businesses.
Established under the American Rescue Plan, and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides a total of $28.6 billion in direct relief funds to restaurants and other hard-hit food establishments that have experienced economic distress and significant operational losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Funds must be used for allowable expenses by March 11, 2023.
Patrick Kelley, SBA Associate Administrator, Office of Capital Access said, “Recognizing the great urgency to help restaurants keep their doors open – and with a clear mandate from Congress – the SBA worked at a breakneck speed and is excited to launch this program.”
“From day one, we engaged with diverse stakeholders in the food industry community to make sure we built and delivered the program equitably, quickly, and efficiently,” Kelley said.
In preparation, the SBA recommends qualifying applicants familiarize themselves with the application process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient application experience, specifically by registering for an account in advance at restaurants.sba.gov starting 8 a.m. Friday, April 30, 2021.
Review the official guidance, including program guide, frequently asked questions, and application sample.
Prepare the required documentation. Work with a point-of-sale vendor or visiting restaruants.sba.gov to submit an application when the application portal opens.
If an applicant is working with a point-of-sale vendor, they do not need to register beforehand on the site.
There were live, recorded virtual training webinars Tuesday, April 27 and Wednesday, April 28.
For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize funding applications from businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
All eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as the portal opens. Following the 21 days, all eligible applications will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis, a news release states.
Consistent with the legislation and the intent of Congress, the SBA continues to take steps to ensure the equitable distribution of relief, particularly for the smallest businesses, by creating a $9.5 billion set-aside: $5 billion for applicants with 2019 gross receipts of not more than $500,000; $4 billion is set aside for applicants with 2019 gross receipts from $500,001 to $1,500,000; and $500 million for applicants with 2019 gross receipts not more than $50,000.
For more information, visit sba.gov/restaurants or in Spanish at sba.gov/restaurants.