Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants open to area eateries

Jennifer Ly
Created: May 04, 2021 07:13 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Some help is on the way in the Finger Lakes region for the food and drink industry.

This week, applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund opened, making approximately $28.6 billion in direct federal funding available for eligible independent restaurants, bars, food trucks, caterers and others.

Kelly Bush, the owner of both Marshall Street Bar and Grill and the Union Tavern, submitted her application for the fund and is feeling a number of emotions.

“It’s very exciting,” Bush said.

The restaurant owner said she also felt some anxiety and panic. Like all restaurant owners, the past year was a struggle for Bush, who also happens to be the Vice President of the Rochester Chapter New York Restaurant Association. 

“It's a relief, you know. This money is needed. This industry has been hit harder, probably harder than most industries by the pandemic,” Bush said.

Bush says it's estimated that the foodservice industry lost over $650 billion in 2020. Here in the Finger Lakes region, more than 60 restaurants have now closed. In a report by the New York Restaurant Association, more than half of restaurants in the state would not survive the next six months without this federal relief. In the Finger Lakes region, approximately 4,000 eating and drinking establishments employed 40,000 people prior to the lockdowns.

Bush has a lot of ideas of how and where the money, if approved, would be used.

“Here at Marshall Street, that'll go towards operational costs more than anything else. The Union Tavern, we have an nice outdoor area that we would love to improve on and make more seating. We know that people are going to be comfortable being outside,” Bush said.

Even with restrictions lifting, however, Bush says there are some new challenges.

“It's great to have [those] things lifted. One hundred percent capacity is great because it gives people some consumer confidence, but it really doesn't change our capacity because we're spaced out as much as we can be right now,” she said. 

Bush says she expects to hear in a couple of weeks and, if approved, funds should be distributed in about four weeks. 

The fund makes up to $5 million in grants available per restaurant location, or $10 million per restaurant group. Entities that can certify that they meet the definition of a woman-owned, veteran-owned, or socially and economically disadvantaged small business will be given priority for the award if their application is filed within the first 21 days the application is open for submissions. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration will accept applications from all eligible applicants during the first 21 days, but will only distribute funds for approved applications that have self-certified as meeting the eligibility requirements for priority ownership.
to learn more about the fund and applying, visit its website.

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