As the first applications for up to $10 million in new federal assistance were accepted Monday, restaurant leaders warned that the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) could run dry before many restaurants have a shot at the aid.
“The question on the minds of many is what happens when applications outpace the available funds,” Tom Bené, CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement.
The association’s lobbying chief was more pointed in his warning. “It will not surprise you that the total number of applicants is going to exceed expectations–and may quickly exhaust the $28.6 billion in federal funding,” Sean Kennedy, EVP of public affairs, said in an email to operators.
He warned in a statement last week that “it’s very likely the $28.6 billion fund will be gone in a matter of weeks–possibly only a few.”
For the next three weeks, preference will be given to applicants that are at least 51% owned by women, veterans or “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”
Both officials urged restaurateurs to increase their chances of being considered for a grant by applying as soon as possible. Registration to apply opened on Friday morning. The fund’s administrator, the U.S. Small Business Administration, started accepting applications Monday at noon EDT.
Information on the program and the application process are available here.
The association executives also noted that representatives are working with members of Congress to ensure aid is available to all restaurants who need financial health to survive the pandemic. “We will continue to work with policymakers to secure a comprehensive set of solutions, including additional funding for the RRF,” said Bené.
Under the RRF component of the American Rescue Plan enacted in mid-March, restaurants can apply for grants of up to $5 million per location, or $10 million for multi-unit operators. Eligibility is limited to businesses with 20 or fewer locations.