By Mahlon Meyer
Northwest Asian Weekly
You can now obtain a new grant for your restaurant from the federal government. If you are a woman, veteran or come from a socially or economically disadvantaged background, the federal government is offering a special three-week period during which you will be given priority for grants. After this period, anyone can apply and the government will distribute grants on a first-come-first-served basis.
You can apply starting on Monday, May 3rd at noon.
However, the online portal is already open if you want to register in advance to save time.
The minimum grant is $1,000. The maximum is $5 million for a single location or $10 million for a business with multiple locations.
The amount of a grant is based on how much a restaurant lost due to the pandemic.
“This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss,” said the Small Business Association (SBA) in a press release on April 27.
The program is called The Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The total funds available to restaurants across the nation are $28.6 billion.
“Restaurants are the core of our neighborhoods and propel economic activity on main streets across the nation. They are among the businesses that have been hardest hit and need support to survive this pandemic. We want restaurants to know that help is here,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.
In addition to the three-week period for the disadvantaged, the federal government has undertaken another strategy to try make sure that the funds are not gobbled up by larger restaurants.
The program has set aside $9.5 billion out of the total for smaller businesses. This breaks down as follows.
For restaurants with gross receipts in 2019 under $500,000, $5 billion is set aside.
For those with gross receipts between $500,001 to $1,500,000, $4 billion is set aside.
For those with gross receipts under $50,000, the federal government has set aside $500 million.
“The SBA has focused on the marketplace realities of our food and beverage businesses in designing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to meet businesses where they are. And we are committed to equity to ensure our smaller and underserved businesses, which have suffered the most, can access this critical relief, recover, and grow more resilient,” said Guzman
How do you apply?
- Starting Friday, April 30 at 9 a.m., register for an account by going to: restaurants.sba.gov
- On the website, read how to apply. There is a sample application. It is available in 18 different languages. There is also a list of all documents required.
- Prepare the required documents.
- Starting Monday, May 3, at noon, you have three weeks to apply for funding. The earlier you apply the better, because it is “first come first served,” according to Guzman.
- You apply at the same site: restaurants.sba.gov
What if you need assistance?
SBA has a hotline with 17 languages available. Assistance is available 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Agents can guide you through the application process. Or you can apply by phone. However, in that case, the government will mail you materials to fill out. So the process will be slower than online.
The hotline number is: 844-279-8898.
If you are a restaurant in the Chinatown-International District and need someone to apply for you, the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIPda) can help with Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese speakers.
If you need their help, email SCIPda at email@example.com.
The City of Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) also can provide support with accounting and in multiple languages.
“OED will also provide technical assistance including accounting consultation for microbusinesses. Seattle small businesses with five employees or less and whose household income does not exceed 80% area median income have access to 10 hours of consulting services. Email OED at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-684-8090 for more information. Bilingual assistance is available in Amharic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Somali, Spanish, Thai, Tigrinya and Vietnamese,” it said in a press release.
For more detailed information about the grant, the OED has prepared a flier. Go to:
“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund will provide much needed support to our local businesses that have done everything in their power to just hold on,” said Pamela Banks, Interim Director of the OED. “Our office is proud to be a part of a network that is committed to connecting as many eligible businesses as possible — especially our businesses owned by people of color, immigrants, refugees and those whose first language is not English — to the necessary information and support that will help them be successful in applying for these grants.”
Who actually is qualified for the priority three-week period?
Besides women and veterans, the SBA has defined disadvantaged groups that will be prioritized during the first three weeks. They include Blacks, Latinos, American Indians, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans, said Guzman.
Subcontinent Asian Americans refers to “persons with origins from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands or Nepal; and members of other groups designated from time to time by the SBA,” according to its website.
As with other federal grant programs, there is always the risk that mainstream businesses will try to jump the line, said Guzman.
“There always challenges that people will try to take advantage,” she said. “It would be unethical in the least, but also a violation of federal law if they are found out, and they would have repercussions.”
Established under the American Rescue Plan, and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is intended to “prioritize economic recovery,” Guzman told the Asian Weekly in an interview.
“What that means is that for SBA to ensure access to opportunity for capital and market access is available for all entrepreneurs especially our emerging and diverse entrepreneurs who have historically experienced barriers,” she said.
If any gaps emerge in the program, the government will be quick to study and rectify them, she said.
“We are implementing this holistic approach to looking at our program and ensuring that whatever changes are necessary to make sure that we’re providing equitable access to resources are done expeditiously,” she said.