Included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed into law today by President Joe Biden, is the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which Florida industry experts call “a critical tool for the survival and recovery of Florida’s restaurants” hit hard by COVID-19.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant industry has been hit harder than any other with more than $250 billion in losses and the closing of more than 110,000 restaurants – 10,000 of which are in Florida,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “Our state is known for its unparalleled attractions, beaches, and especially our hospitality industry, and we knew this crisis would be the worst we have ever seen. Through persistence with our partners at the National Restaurant Association, we have advocated for targeted relief for a year, and the passage of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund brings hope for survival and recovery. We still have a long way to go, but today is a wonderful day for Florida’s restaurants.”
The RRF according to FRLA, will create a new federal program for restaurant owners with 20 or fewer locations. Operators can apply for tax-free grants of up to $5 million per location or up to $10 million for multi-location operations. The grant amount is determined by subtracting 2020 sales from 2019 revenues.
Funds from the grants can be spent on a wider range of expenses than previous relief programs, including mortgages or rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage inventory, payroll, and operational expenses. There will be $5 billion of the fund set aside for restaurants with gross receipts under $500,000 and, for the first three weeks of the application period, the Small Business Administration (SBA) will prioritize awarding grants for women-, veteran-, or socially and economically disadvantaged-owned businesses.