ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Nearly $29 billion is available to help businesses hurt by the pandemic. On Friday, registration for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund opened to provide relief for businesses hurt by the pandemic.
The fund is a part of $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that President Joe Biden signed into law at the beginning of March. The Small Business Administration says every business will be able to apply for grants of up to $10 million.
The application process officially opens Monday at noon and many area restaurant owners say they are ready for the much-needed money.
“We’re applying because we have like most other restaurants, have felt the economic impact of the pandemic,” said Karin Williams, the President and Owner of Lakeside Haven Diner. “There’ been so many different facets that have been affected by it.
$28.6 billion dollars will be given to eligible entities, including restaurants, food stands and food trucks, bars and taverns, and snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars.
Drew Nye, a Co-owner of Roam Cafe, says he is glad the government is helping hurting businesses.
“It’s just nice to see the government, the small business administration, is doing things to help the restaurant industry, which is really, really struggling the past year and a half,” Nye said.
Restaurants across New York have been at limited capacity for a long time, which means they haven’t seen as many customers. “If we’re only allowed to have 50% of our original capacity, it’s inherently going to be less business for everyone,” Nye said.
Williams says along with less business, their diner has had to pay more to improve safety precautions for employees and customers.
“Plexiglass costs over $600 for us. Gloves, facial masks, having sanitizing stations. These things are kind of like behind the scene things that customers don’t necessarily see, but has really impacted us significantly,” Williams said.
Many restaurants are currently facing staffing shortages too. Meaning, often times additional money goes to paying employees.
“The result of that is people are getting paid more as well, certainly in the kitchen and the back of the house,” Nye said. “So this will help us raise wages and help us maintain the staff that we have.”
Williams said, ”We’ve added bonuses that we would not necessarily have given had it not been from this help from the government.”
Despite the hardships businesses have faced during the pandemic, restaurant owners are hopeful about the coming months.
“It’s encouraging to hopefully get some money from the fund, but also with the vaccinations there is a lot of optimism around the restaurant business,” Nye said.
Restaurants can apply online on the application portal, which goes live Monday at noon. The applications will be open until funds are exhausted.