On February 4, senators voted overwhelmingly in support of establishing a grant-based Restaurant Revitalization Fund, an action that could significantly affect the entire industry. The support for restaurant-specific funds was followed today by the reintroduction of the RESTAURANTS Act, an amendment based on the RESTAURANTS Act of 2020, which proposed $120 billion in grant funds to provide restaurant-specific relief.
The RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 states: “More than 100,000 restaurants closed their doors in 2020” and “previous relief efforts, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, provided relief to restaurants, but have not met their specific challenges… Grant money could be used for eligible expenses including payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, construction of outdoor seating, supplies, PPE, food, operational expenses, paid sick leave, and prior debt obligations to suppliers.”
The act states that the maximum grant value would not exceed $10 million and that grant eligibility would be provided for new restaurants that opened after January 1, 2020. In addition, if a restaurant has already received a prior grant or loan (under the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan), the value of the Restaurant Revitalization Grant would be reduced by the amount of PPP or EIDL funds spent.
“The unified RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 is a light at the end of a long, dark winter for independent, chain, and franchise restaurants that have been most impacted by the pandemic,” Sean Kennedy, EVP of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “These grants will put even the hardest-hit restaurants on the path to economic survival.”
Tara Gallina, who along with her husband Michael, own Vicia and Winslow’s Table Market & Bakery, was an ardent supporter of RESTAURANTS Act 2020. “The restaurant industry urgently needs financial support to make it through the other side of this crisis,” she said in response to today’s news. “That Congress is giving serious consideration to passing the RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 gives me great hope for our survival rate. This act would allow us the flexibility to build back and the ability to cover crucial and necessary benefits to our employees without fear it won’t be forgiven. Thousands of people in the St. Louis community are directly tied to or employed by restaurants. This support would be an enormous economic boost to our community. Call on our senators and tell them we need their support!”