Fed funds to help save New York City restaurants, says de Blasio

Protesters pleaded, “Open restaurants!”
Photo by Dean Moses

Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a program to connect restaurants to federal relief funds, Wednesday, April 28, to provide emergency assistance for eligible restaurants and bars impacted by COVID-19.

“New York City’s restaurants have worked tirelessly to keep the lights on, keep their workers employed, and keep their neighborhoods vibrant. Now, it’s time to connect them to the support they deserve,” said de Blasio in a statement. “We can’t afford to let local restaurants fall through the cracks, and I’m proud to give every establishment the resources to access federal assistance.”

The program is called the Fair Share NYC, which will work to connect restaurant owners through weekly webinars about the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and prepare their applications. The program builds off of the city’s Paycheck Protection Program PPP, a forgivable loan to help businesses keep their workforce employed, but the RRF is a part of the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act. 

The RRF will provide non-taxable grants to restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location, said the Small Business Administration (SBA). The federal government aims to prioritize veteran, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses in the first 21 days of the RRF grant program after it opens in May. 

“The restaurant industry is essential to New York City’s social and economic fabric but has faced unprecedented financial challenges as we navigated the health crisis,” said Commissioner of Small Business Services (SBS) Jonnel Doris. “SBS will continue to serve on the frontline of recovery by helping connect our City’s restaurants to this federal grant.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the SBS has assisted more than 4,000 businesses with over $294 million in PPP applications and connected over 5,000 businesses with $142 million in loans and grants, said the SBS.

“Our restaurants and small businesses define our city and have faced ultimate uncertainty through COVID-19. Many of us have worked to ensure they stay afloat over the past several months. With federal relief on its way, it is critical that restaurants get the support they need. Thanks to the Mayor, MOME, and SBS helping these funds get to our cherished establishments,” said Councilmember Keith Powers.

Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, who worked to champion the open streets restaurant program last year, said he was excited that the city is working to facilitate connecting businesses to much-needed federal aid. 

“Our restaurants have been crying out for relief and now that it’s been secured, it is critical that we funnel it to businesses as quickly as possible, but with an eye toward equity, prioritizing veteran, women, and minority-owned businesses first. I look forward to working with the Mayor’s office, my colleagues at the federal level, and our local businesses to ensure this program’s success,” said Reynoso.

“New York City’s restaurant industry has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the recently enacted Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides the sector with incredible support to help them survive, but that’s only if they can access the grant funding,” said NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie. 

Restaurants awarded are not required to repay the grants as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023, said the SBA.

Registration for the SBA application portal will begin on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 9 a.m. Applications will open on Monday, May 3.

Restaurants, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, tasting rooms, taprooms, breweries, and wineries are among the businesses included that qualify.