Calling all Washington restaurant owners who are working through pandemic-induced challenges: the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is open for applications. The program, which came into effect under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, sets aside $28 billion in funding to “help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open,” according to the U.S. Small Business Association. It began accepting applications Monday.
With Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman counties having rolled back to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s coronavirus reopening plan, and King County likely to follow this week, the introduction of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is a ray of hope for Washington’s restaurant owners as COVID-19 numbers tick upward. Under Phase 2, indoor dining is again limited to 25% capacity — down from 50% in Phase 3.
The program is open to a wide gamut of businesses that fall under the “restaurant” umbrella — including distilleries, brewpubs, food carts, wineries and inns — and preference will be given to women, minority and veteran-owned businesses. Recipients will be eligible to receive funding equal to pandemic-related revenue loss, minus any grants received, of up to $10 million per business and $5 million per physical location.
Recipients don’t have to repay the funds if they are used in eligible ways by March 11, 2023. According to the Small Business Administration, restaurants can use the funds in multiple ways, including:
- For business payroll costs
- Payments on a business mortgage
- Business debt service
- Utility payments
- Business maintenance expenses
- Construction of outdoor seating
- Business supplies
- Food and beverage expenses
- Supplier costs
- Operating expenses
Applications will be time-stamped and processed on a “first come, first served” basis, said Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association.
“There’s only enough money to support one out of six restaurants (across the U.S.), and we really want to make sure every Washington restaurant gets in,” Anton said, stressing that Washington business owners should get their applications in as quickly as possible.
“This is a game changer as Congress has said they could fund (the program) further if there’s a demand. Even if you’re worried you might not get in, still get your application in so if they decide to fund further, you’re in line,” Anton said.
Applicants are directed to a SBA portal (restaurants.sba.gov) to apply. Anton says the Washington Hospitality Association is working with state agencies to assist applicants with everything from potential language barriers to internet access.
“We don’t want computer proficiency to be the reason you don’t stay in business,” Anton says.
The Washington Hospitality Association has an online tool kit available with additional resources at hub.wahospitality.org.