The massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that was approved Wednesday by the House of Representatives and is on its way to the president’s desk for signing includes $28.6 billion in funds specifically meant to help small restaurants.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is based on the RESTAURANTS Act – the acronym stands for (deep breath) Real Economic Support that Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive – that was passed by Congress last year but never introduced in the Republican-led Senate. That bill would have provided $109 billion for restaurants. The American Rescue Plan that the House sent to the Senate last week stipulated $25 billion of the total package for restaurants; the Senate increased it by $3.6 billion.
The revised rescue plan does not include an increase in the minimum wage, which would have had a profound effect on the service industry.
The relief will be in the form of grants – not loans – to individual food and beverage operations, including restaurants, bars, food trucks, caterers and microbreweries. Individual restaurants may receive up to $5 million; restaurant groups with up to 20 locations may receive $10 million.
During the initial three weeks the money becomes available, priority will be given to businesses owned and operated by women, people of color and veterans. One fifth of the funds will be set aside for restaurants that grossed under $500,000 in 2019.
Details regarding when the funds will be available and the application process are not yet available.