The U.S. Small Business Administration has already received 186,200 Restaurant Revitalization Fund applications from all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and five U.S. territories within the first 48 hours the application portal has opened, according to the White House.
About one-third of applications (61,700) came from businesses with under $500,000 in pre-pandemic reported revenue. The SBA has set aside $9.5 billion for the smallest restaurants and bars with under $50,000 in revenue.
More than half of all applications (97,600) came from women (46,400), veterans (4,200), socially or economically individuals (30,800), or some combination of all three (16,200). For the first 21 days of the program, the SBA will prioritize women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Following the first 21 days, funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.
According to one early applicant — Dina Samson, owner of Rossoblu and Superfine pizza in Los Angeles — the process for applying for the RRF grants was much easier and more straightforward than the first round of PPP loan applications and she was “shocked” at how well-run the process was.
"The overwhelming demand for this fund makes it clear that restaurants and bars are suffering," Erika Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition said in a statement. "[…] The IRC and SBA spoke to over 73,000 people on webinars last week alone, which is why we expect applications to continue to rise. We are grateful that SBA and the Biden-Harris Administration implemented this program quickly and took our concerns seriously so businesses hurting the most can access the relief they desperately need.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has cost the foodservice industry $280 billion in sales, and more than one in six (110,000) restaurants have permanently closed, according to data from the National Restaurant Association.
However, during this period of recovery, the restaurant industry has added 450,000 jobs since January and the percentage of restaurant and bar business owners planning to hire has doubled from 30 to 57%, according to the White House, amid an ongoing restaurant industry labor crisis.
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