• Congress Proposes Restaurant Relief

    The House Small Business Committee has folded into the Biden coronavirus relief proposal a rescue plan that would give ailing restaurants and other food and drinking establishments $25 billion in grants and provide additional relief to shuttered live venues and much more. The program would be administered by the Small Business Administration.   

    • $5 billion of this amount is set aside for businesses with less than $500,000 in 2019 annual revenue.
    • Grants are available for up to $10 million per entity, with a limitation of $5 million per physical location.
    • Entities are limited to 20 locations.
    • Grants are calculated by subtracting 2020 revenue from 2019 revenue.
    • During the first 21 days, applications from restaurants owned and operated controlled by women, veterans or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals will receive priority.
    • Grants may be used for a wide variety of expenses, including payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage expenses, paid sick leave and operational expenses.  

    Also in the bill:

    • $15 billion in additional funding for Economic Injury Disaster Loan grants
    • $7.25 billion in additional funding to allow more nonprofit groups, including larger nonprofits, as well as digital news outlets to apply for forgivable PPP loans
    • $1.25 billion in additional funding for shuttered live venue grants
    • $175 million for the creation of a "Community Navigator" program to increase awareness of COVID-19 relief programs for business owners lacking access
    • $1.325 billion in new administrative funding to carry out small business aid programs

    On a much larger scale, there is legislation recently introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 793/S. 255), the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act, that proposes the creation of a $120 billion restaurant revitalization fund. Grants would flow through the Treasury Department and would be available to restaurants for expenses between February 2020 and eight months after enactment. The money may be used for payroll, food, utilities, rent, supplies and maintenance.

    Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) are the chief Senate sponsors; Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are the leads in the House. 

    There are other stipulations: priority is given to restaurants in marginalized/underrepresented communities; it is designed for those with annual revenue of less than $1.5 million; if the business received a PPP loan then it is ineligible; food trucks and bars are included; the business must have fewer than 20 locations; if there is money that is unused by a certain time period, that amount converts to a low interest loan.