$28.6 billion federal grant fund expected to help local bars and restaurants

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Billions of dollars in federal grant money will be available to bars and restaurants that have suffered losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest COVID relief package that became law this month established a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

Privately-owned bars, restaurants, food stands, food trucks, caterers and more are eligible for fund grants, which will equal the business’s pandemic-related revenue loss minus any Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans received.

“I think it’s going to really stabilize a lot of places that are maybe on the fringe or not prepared for the future as much,” said Chef Rocco Whalen, who owns Fahrenheit Cleveland and also operates several food stands and a food truck.

WJW photo

Whalen said he planned to apply for a grant.

Grant money can be used to cover operational expenses including payroll costs, mortgage payments, rent payments, utilities, maintenance, supplies including personal protective equipment and cleaning materials and food and beverage expenses.

“This is specifically aimed at restaurants and bars,” Ohio Restaurant Association President John Barker said.

He said RRF grants cover more than PPP loans, which were also available to a variety of businesses.

“They’ve had to invest a ton of money to survive, so these are things to try to pay back bills they’ve had for some time, including, in many cases, rent,” Barker said.

National Restaurant Association Executive Vice President for Public Affairs Sean Kennedy said the funding will help an industry that’s lost more jobs and revenue than any other during the pandemic.

“Restaurants are coming into 2021 incredibly vulnerable right now. This is a pandemic that has really pushed us to our limits,” Kennedy said. “This grant funding is going to allow restaurants to cover a little more of their costs, keep those doors open a little bit longer and hopefully come through on the other side of this pandemic stronger and better able to serve the community.”

Grants will be capped at $10 million per business and $5 million per physical location. $5 billion has been set aside for businesses with gross receipts of $500,000 or less.

The fund is being administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Barker said he expects the application process for grants will open in late April or May.

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