National Restaurant Association to SBA: Release $180M in RRF Funds

Letter seeks distribution of funds to pending applicants in fair and timely manner

Today the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Small Business Administration (SBA) requesting that it release $180 million in unobligated Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) money to applicants who did not receive initial funding. The availability of the funds first came to light in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, released on July 14, which noted:

As of June 2022, $180 million of RRF funding was unobligated, according to According to SBA officials, the unobligated funding includes $24 million set aside for litigation, and the remainder results from realized or anticipated recoveries. SBA data also indicate that about $56 million came from returned awards (officials said that awards were returned by the recipients or their financial institutions). SBA officials said some of the recovered funds also came from awards the Department of the Treasury administratively offset and returned to SBA.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 did not create a litigation set aside for the SBA to administer. While ARPA does direct returned or reclaimed RRF awards to the Department of Treasury, the Association believes it would be consistent with the spirit of the law to utilize all unobligated funds to address the RRF shortfall.

“Now more than ever, every dollar appropriated by Congress for restaurant relief needs to be unlocked and put in the hands of operators struggling to keep their doors open,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president for Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association. “The potential for replenishing the RRF remains uncertain at best, thus the efficient disbursement of the existing funds is of critical importance to our industry. Restaurants remain battered with worker shortages, runaway food costs, and an uncertain level of customer confidence in the coming months. The need for relief has not abated. We urge the SBA to take every step to disburse all remaining funds in a fair and timely manner.”

The restaurant industry is still struggling to rebuild from the initial impacts of the pandemic. The industry still has not recovered 728,000 jobs lost in the initial government shutdowns. Added to the stress of wholesale food costs that have risen more than 13% in the last 12 months, and rising COVID outbreaks in many communities, operators are growing more pessimistic about the economic outlook. According to the Association’s June 2022 Operator Tracking Survey, 43% say they think economic conditions will worsen in six months. This is the highest level of economic pessimism since 2008.

Read the full letter to SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman here.