This week, the White House announced that 186,200 restaurants, bars and other eligible businesses had applied for aid under the new Restaurant Relief Program in its first two days of accepting applications. Over 50% of the applying businesses are owned by women, veterans or minorities, according to reports. The program was created as part of Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
At a Cinco de Mayo photo op this week, the president touted the $28.6 billion program at Taqueria Las Gemelas in Washington and ordered lunch. The Mexican immigrant owned eatery benefited from a pilot version of the restaurant relief program. Although the business went from 55 employees to seven during the pandemic, it has been able to rehire workers via the Paycheck Protection Program created under President Trump.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, our nation’s restaurants were some of the first and the worst hit," Biden said at the restaurant Wednesday.
The COVID pandemic has been especially destructive towards restaurants. Almost 2,700 dining establishments were lost through last summer, according to data from the US Department of Labor. Additionally, close to another 1.8 million food service jobs have also been lost.
Not-for-profit group, Opportunity Insights, also found that spending at hotels and restaurants had plunged more than 60% in April of last year when compared with the start of 2020. Overall spending is still down 4.5% when compared to before the pandemic.
Under the Restaurant Relief Program, which started accepting applications this past Monday, restaurants and bars may qualify for grants equal to pandemic-related losses, up to a $10 million cap per business, and $5 million per location.
Oddly, during the program's first 21 days, applications from women, veterans and minorities will have priority for being reviewed and funded.
You can find more information on the program at sba.gov/restaurants.