Here’s how Ohio restaurants, bars can get help

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WILLOUGHBY, Ohio (WJW) — COVID-19 restrictions on Ohio’s eateries may be lifted, but there’s still a need for financial help in the food and beverage industry.

“Anytime I see one [financial aid program] come across our table I’m like, ‘There you go. I gotta apply, I gotta apply,'” said McPat Coyne, co-owner of Nora’s Public House in Willoughby.

Restaurant and bar owners have been leaning on federal and state aid for the past year and a half. 

“For the PPP loans, I’ve done both loans. I did. I did receive both. It was very, very helpful and it probably kept us in business the whole time,” said James Turcotte, co-owner of Chagrin River Diner in Willoughby.

Ohio is now offering the Food and Beverage Establishment Grant program to eligible businesses, something the Ohio Restaurant Association lobbied for.

“It was not their fault, right. This was the pandemic that started all this and, of course, the decision to shut down certain industries. Let’s help them come back. Let’s give them a fighting chance,” said ORA President and CEO John Barker.

$100 million has been designated to the program and applications are being accepted as of Tuesday. 

“They’ll be able to apply for anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 in grants and depends on how much of a loss they had last year,” said Barker.

The money will be distributed to all of Ohio’s 88 counties with each county getting an initial amount of $500,000. Then the funds will be reallocated to the areas most in need. 

“Since the start of this, I think Ohio’s been really good and DeWine’s been really good at offering grants,” said Coyne.

He has already started the application process and says they’re excited about anything that helps them get back on their feet. 

“It goes to pay our employees and all the utilities and everything that we’ve needed to keep afloat.”

Turcotte plans to apply to try and help attract employees with the current worker shortage in the industry and others. 

“We’ve gotta compete with the bigger restaurants, the greatest chains that are paying $15, $18 dollars just to get people in the door.”

The industry was hit hard in 2020. 

“There was a point last year where about two-thirds of our industry, was furloughed,” said Barker.

It is still feeling the lingering effects a year later. 

“Any kind of help right now is a Godsend,” said Turcotte.

The program is being conducted on a first come first serve basis. You can find the application and more information here.

Eligible businesses:

  • Must have experienced at least a 10% reduction in sales/revenue in 2020 at one or more Ohio locations as a result of COVID-19, and a grant is necessary to help it recover from the impact of COVID-19 
  • Must have at least one physical location in Ohio 
  • Must have been in continuous operation since at least December 1, 2019, except for interruptions required by COVID-19 public health orders and has the ability to continue operations as a going concern, taking into account a potential program grant
  • Must be in good standing with the Ohio Secretary of State, the Ohio Department of Taxation, and any other governmental entity charged with regulating the business

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