PLATTSBURGH — Eateries, food stands, coffee shops and breweries nationwide can start applying to the federally-funded Restaurant Revitalization Fund today at noon.
"Mark your calendars, set your timers, your reminders and get ready," Jeffrey Boyce, Small Business Administration Upstate NY Branch manager, said at a recent webinar hosted by the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
"This is going to be an exciting and, we think, frankly, a very busy rush to these funds."
The $28.6 billion fund, aimed at the food and beverage industry, was written into the latest COVID relief package approved in March.
Eligible businesses would receive no less than $1,000 and no more than $5 million for a single location or $10 million if split across multiple locations.
If used for qualifying purposes, funds would operate like a grant, Boyce said.
"The intent is that you receive these and use these for eligible purposes and (they) do not have to be repaid," he explained. "The goal of the program, in a nutshell, is to make up for pandemic-related losses that the entity incurred during the covered period."
The Small Business Administration, a U.S. agency, was selected to administer the monies.
Qualifying businesses include food-oriented ones, like restaurants, food trucks, food stands, ice cream shops and caterers, as well as drink-oriented ones, like bars, saloons, taverns, lounges and coffee shops.
Bakeries, breweries, wineries, distilleries, Inns and tasting rooms qualify if onsite sales made up at least 33 percent of gross receipts.
"While the name is 'Restaurant Revitalization Fund,'" Boyce said, "it's really all of these different food and drink businesses that are eligible."
Eligible businesses range from corporations to LLCs to sole proprietors to franchisers and beyond.
Businesses do not qualify if they are permanently closed, own more than 20 locations, have a pending application for or were awarded a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, are a nonprofit, are a Publicly-Traded Company or are ineligible for at least $1,000 in funding per the program's calculations.
Businesses that temporarily closed during the pandemic are still eligible and all applicants must certify their request is necessary to support ongoing or anticipated operations.
Award amounts will vary business to business and will be calculated differently depending on the business' situation and when it was in operation.
Eligible expenses include things like payroll, utility bills, maintenance, supplies, raw material costs and operating costs, as well as construction expenses related to outdoor seating, but not to expansions.
Business debt, like mortgage payments and debt service, apply, as well.
The dollars need be spent on expenses incurred between Feb. 15, 2020 and March 11, 2023. Any money not spent before the latter date will need to be returned.
The first 21 days of the program, from Monday, May 3 through Monday, May 24, is a designated priority period.
It's meant for "priority applicants," meaning 51 percent of the business or more is controlled or operated by individuals who are women, veterans and/or belong to other socially and economically disadvantaged groups.
"Everyone can apply on May 3, but if you are not one of these priority groups, you're application will basically go into a queue for the first 21 days, while priority applicants are both accepted and processed," Boyce said.
After May 24, all applications will be processed.
"It's $29 billion that Congress has authorized for the program — that's huge amount or money, but given the need, which is equally as huge, we expect that program funds will go rapidly and we are hopeful that Congress may authorize additional funds. . . "
Email McKenzie Delisle:
Eligible businesses can apply to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund beginning today at noon.
They can do so online at restaurants.sba.gov or through a participating point-of-sale (POS) vendor, like Square, Toast, Aloha or Clover.
Businesses without internet access or a participating POS vendor can apply by phone at 844-279-8898. Filing by phone will lead to longer processing times.