Plan delivering $29B in restaurant aid heads to Biden's desk

The House of Representatives approved the American Rescue Plan without a single Republican 'yea' vote.

Almost exactly one year after a pandemic was officially declared, the House of Representatives approved a $1.9 trillion plan Wednesday to help the nation through what are hoped to be the crisis’ final chapters, with $28.6 billion reserved specifically for the survival of restaurants.

The measure now moves to the White House, where President Biden has vowed to sign the historic measure into law as soon as he can lift the pen. The lift to the economy could be felt as soon as next week, when checks for $1,400 in direct aid start reaching households.

The American Rescue Plan will also spare millions of Americans from losing a federal sweetener to their state-paid unemployment benefits. The payments, dropped down by the Plan to $300 a week, were scheduled to cease starting Saturday.

Included among the beneficiaries are presumably about 2 million former restaurant workers who lost their jobs as the industry was shutdown to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Relief for restaurant owners and operators may be a little longer in coming. The $28.6 billion earmarked in the bill for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will be allocated in grants of up to $5 million per operation by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The process for fielding and managing grant requests has yet to be developed.

About a fifth of the money will be reserved for restaurants that had 2019 revenues of under $500,000.

The money is available to operations with under 20 locations, with the amount determined by sacrificing an applicant’s 2020 revenues from its 2019 sales. The funds can be used for most operating expenses, including rent, payroll and food costs.

Additional aid is provided to restaurants through increased funding of several familiar loan and grant programs.

“Today Congress spoke with one voice in support of the restaurant industry,” Sean Kennedy, EVP of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “The Restaurant Revitalization Fund will keep doors open in restaurants large and small in every community.”

The Plan was approved along party lines, with 220 Democratic yeas besting the 211 Republican nays. Not one Republican voted for passage.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Why MOD Pizza is not out of the woods yet

The Bottom Line: The fast-casual pizza chain was sold last week to Elite Restaurant Group. But few who’ve seen the finances believe the company can avoid closing large numbers of stores.


Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.


Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.


More from our partners