Tallahassee, Fla. – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced the availability of the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, for which Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried encouraged Florida restaurants and other eligible businesses to apply. This week, the federal agency shared key details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Joe Biden, established the fund to help revive the restaurant industry. The SBA will administer the funds to the hardest-hit small restaurants.
The restaurant industry has been among the hardest-hit sectors during COVID-19. According to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), approximately 10,000 restaurants in Florida have closed, with 65 percent of Florida restaurant operators reporting lower revenue; despite this, 83 percent of Florida restaurant operators have made charitable donations throughout COVID-19, including cash, food, in-kind services, and volunteerism. Restaurants are a key market for Florida agricultural products, including seafood, meat, and fresh seasonal produce such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and fruit.
“Restaurant owners and small businesses in the restaurant industry have really been impacted by COVID-19. So many local restaurants are beloved community gathering places and have had to make tough decisions, from staffing and hiring to even staying in business,” said Commissioner Fried. “With restaurants a crucial partner for Florida’s farmers and ranchers, I encourage all eligible Florida restaurant businesses to take advantage of these federal recovery funds, especially women, veteran, and disadvantaged restaurant operators. These small businesses feed our families, support our neighbors, and are the backbone of our communities.”
“Since day one of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked with state and federal leaders to achieve financial relief and save Florida’s restaurants,’ said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “We are thrilled with the passage of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is a lifeline for our operators who are trying to keep their doors open and their staff employed. We encourage all Florida restaurants, bars, and other eligible recipients to prepare for the launch of the program to secure these much-needed funds.”
The SBA draft application, a background document, and an FAQ document may all be found on FRLA’s website. Additional details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide may be found from the SBA in English at www.SBA.gov/restaurants or in Spanish at www.SBA.gov/restaurantes. Eligible entities who have experienced pandemic-related revenue loss include restaurants, food stands, food trucks and carts, caterers, bars, bakeries, brewpubs, wineries, distilleries, and many others.
Application Portal Pilot: Ahead of the application launch and over the next two weeks, the SBA will establish a seven-day pilot period for the RRF application portal and conduct extensive outreach and training. The pilot period will be used to address technical issues ahead of the public launch. Participants in this pilot will be randomly selected from existing PPP borrowers in priority groups for RRF and will not receive funds until the application portal is open to the public.
Priority for Disadvantaged Applicants: Following the pilot, the application portal will be opened to the public. The official application launch date will be announced at a later date. For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize reviewing applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Following the 21-day period, all eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications. The groundwork for this announcement is the result of a comprehensive effort to reach out to diverse stakeholders in order to understand the needs and barriers restaurants face in accessing emergency relief aid.