Questions Raised Over Restaurant Fund Recipients
Both details and debates are emerging over the businesses that received federal funds intended to help restaurants weather the pandemic.
The Small Business Administration released the names and amounts businesses received from the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund after the Independent Restaurant Coalition filed a Freedom of Information Act request. The organization had raised concerns about funds going to nontraditional eating and drinking establishments.
“Congress clearly spelled out that only eating and drinking places should qualify for relief,” the organization said in a statement.
It noted that six Hilton Hotel subsidiary locations received a total of $21.2 million while five Wyndham Hotel locations received $2.9 million. Santa Monica, California-based hotel developer and owner Windsor Capital Group, owner of mostly Embassy Suites, is one of the 67 companies that received the maximum grant of $10 million.
Wedding planners and caterers such as Legendary Events in Atlanta and San Francisco-based Events Management, which does business as McCalls Catering & Events, each received $10 million. Lucky Strike Entertainment, a California-based bowling chain with arcade games and billiards that serves food at its 16 U.S. locations, also received the maximum grant.
Congress is considering replenishing the fund with $60 billion. The restaurant coalition said in its statement that it hopes Congress ensures “only restaurants and bars receive additional funding in the future.”
Pepsi Earnings Rise on Reopenings
Customers returning to restaurants and sports fans filling stadiums helped drive Pepsi’s earnings beyond Wall Street's expectations.
Net revenue grew 20.5% to $19.2 billion for its quarter that ended June 12 compared to the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter also was higher than the same time in 2019 when it reported $16.4 billion.
Revenue is up 14% for the first two quarters of the Purchase, New York-based food and beverage company’s current fiscal year compared to last year and $4.7 billion higher than in 2019.
In prepared remarks, top management said that the “large format and convenience and gas channels delivered double-digit net revenue growth, while net revenue for our foodservice business doubled in the quarter as we lapped a significant decline from the previous year due to pandemic-related restrictions and closures.”
Its foodservice business includes sales in restaurants and stadiums. Major League Baseball stadiums, in particular, had started opening to full capacity over the past several months.
US Coronavirus Cases Jump
The number of U.S. confirmed coronavirus cases has been rising at rates not seen since March, sounding alarm bells that some restrictions may return to quell the spike.
According to data collected by the New York Times, the number of cases over the past two weeks has increased 94% to a daily average of 23,025. More than 32,000 cases were reported July 12, three days after 35,000 new cases were reported.
Hospitalizations have risen with the increase in cases, which has sent the number of deaths up as well. Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and Nevada have been identified as the primary hotspots.
Health officials have stated that the fast-spreading Delta variant is more dangerous than the original virus, particularly among unvaccinated people. In all, about 48% of the U.S. population is vaccinated, according to the Mayo Clinic, far short of the 80% goal.