Relief grants for restaurants start in 3 weeks


AMSTERDAM – Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer said on Tuesday that a $ 28.6 billion subsidy program created by Congress to boost struggling restaurants will begin serving customers in about three weeks .

“What’s on the menu at Russo’s and so many other restaurants in our state?” Asked Schumer, standing outside Russo’s Bar and Grill in Amsterdam.

This was good news for owner Mike Russo, who said his restaurant was struggling, despite receiving a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program that helped support the business and its operations. 16 employees.

“It’s been a long year,” Russo said. “We didn’t make any money during the first few months of the pandemic. We just stayed open to keep our employees.”

Across the country, catering and hospitality businesses – like restaurants, bars and hotels – have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, as people have been forced to stay at home and businesses shut down in the country. public. In an area that includes New York State, northern New Jersey and Fairfield County, Connecticut, leisure and hospitality businesses lost the most jobs – more than 750,000 – from February to April 2020, reported the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. About 50 percent of those jobs returned by October.

By mid-March, restaurants in New York City were able to start operating at 75% of their capacity, up from 50%.

Soon restaurants like Russo’s will be able to apply for additional help from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which will administer the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, providing grants of up to $ 5 million to restaurants across the country. This is a change for the SBA, which usually only offers loans, not grants.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the grants will be calculated by subtracting a restaurant’s 2020 gross receipts from their 2019 gross receipts. The SBA did not respond to an investigation into the restaurant’s program, which the agency is currently reviewing. finalize the details.

The SBA will deduct the value of any PPP loans a restaurant has previously received from the value of the relief grant, according to several sources. Restaurants can use this money to pay for payroll, mortgages or rent, utilities, supplies such as food and cleaning materials, employee sick days, and personal protective equipment.

Businesses that own more than 20 restaurants or are publicly traded cannot apply. But food trucks, caterers, bars, breweries, and tasting rooms can get the money.

Another SBA relief program to help theaters and arts venues will begin offering grants starting Thursday. Some $ 16.25 billion is available for distribution to museums, concert halls, zoos, cinemas and arts agencies. Subsidies will represent 45% of an operator’s gross income in 2016. As with the restaurant assistance program, previously obtained PPP loans will be deducted from the subsidies.

“The SBA understands that these sites are critical to the US economy and understands how badly they were affected because they were among the first to shut down,” said SBA administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman.

At the press conference with Schumer were Representative Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti and Bob Purtell, a Montgomery County lawmaker.

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