Independent restaurants in the New York metro area including New Jersey who didn’t get relief from the Paycheck Protection Program might find some relief through the new Restaurant Rescue Fund.
Created by the non-profit organization Heart to Harvest, the Restaurant Rescue Fund is designed to help roughly 54,000 independent restaurants in the New York metro area, which covers New York City, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties and New Jersey.
Restaurant Rescue Fund hopes to raise $10 million by the end of the year. Grants will generally start at $25,000. Restaurateurs with no more than five locations can apply for a grant starting May 15. Applications, accepted for 14 days, will be vetted by an independent board. Priority will be given to restaurants that work with small farms.
Restaurant owners that have received a Paycheck Protection Program loan can apply. The grant, organizers say, is designed to help small restaurants pay for expenses beyond payroll.
For the PPP to become forgivable, restaurant owners must use 75% of the funds for payroll.
Restaurant owners and advocacy groups say that the payroll cap needs to be lowered, as most restaurants are not operating at a capacity making it impossible to allocate that much money to payroll.
Instead, they need relief for paying bills such as utilities and rent payments.
“The PPP loan isn’t great for restaurants since it is focused on payroll and has to be used before June 30, while most restaurants are closed,” Heart to Harvest Chairman Robby Younes. “This creates a lot of issues for restaurants as many won’t meet the requirements for forgiveness. Plus they need resources for inventory, equipment leases and other expenses not forgivable under PPP.”
The New Jersey non-profit was founded in 2018 to support local farms.
The organization said it is “actively working to solicit large donations from the corporate world” to fund the program.
Restaurants applying for the grant must submit a reopening plan that includes how it will handle seating limitations upon reopening.
Restaurant owners can find more information on the organization's website.
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