Restaurants to become eligible for $28.6 billion 'first come, first served' stimulus grants


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Restaurants can begin the application process on Friday for relief from a $28.6 billion fund for the industry that was approved in the American Rescue Plan, Small Business Administration (SBA) officials said.

The stimulus fund will support the food and beverage industry with grants of up to $5 million, or up to $10 million for busineses with multiple locations. Restaurants will be able to apply until the funds are exhausted, officials said. The grants must be spent by March, 2023.

Isabella Casillas Guzman, administrator of the SBA, said the agency is “committed to equity” as it makes the funds available, pledging that smaller and underserved businesses won’t be left out, even though it will be what she described as a “first come, first served” process.

The National Restaurant Association fears the relief from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will quickly be exhausted from a rush of applications, estimating that the industry has lost $270 billion from the pandemic, according to Sean Kennedy, the association’s executive vice president for public affairs. The application numbers on day one are expected to be “through the roof,” he said. “It's going to go quickly.”

Kennedy said the association is working with members of Congress in hopes to create additional funding for restaurants.

The SBA will begin accepting applications on Monday, May 3 at 12 p.m. from restaurants as well as food trucks, caterers, coffee shops, and bars, among other businesses. Applicants are encouraged to complete applications in advance upon the beginning of the registration window Friday morning.

The first three weeks of the program will be a priority period for businesses that are majority-owned by women, socially or economically disadvantaged people and veterans.