Restaurant Revitalization Fund Stalls Due To Discrimination Lawsuits
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The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) promised a lifeline for struggling restaurants, especially those owned by women, military veterans, and economically disadvantaged business owners, who were given priority status for three weeks. By mid-June, however, the Small Business Administration (SBA) was forced to deny funding to nearly 3,000 previously approved priority applicants. Why? The SBA lost multiple lawsuits brought by restaurateurs who argued that the priority system was discriminatory. While Congress recently introduced legislation for a $60 billion replenishment of the RRF, that legislation remains to be approved. It's a dog eat dog world out there.
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NYC's Three-Michelin Star Eleven Madison Park Will Reopen As A Vegan Restaurant
Image Source: Sebastian Nevols
The venerated fine-dining restaurant long known for its technically perfect suckling pig, lavender glazed duck, and foie gras torchon will reopen this month with no animal products on the menu. Instead, James Beard Award-winning chef Daniel Humm will feature complex dishes such as clay roasted beets with roasted lettuce sauce that takes 16 hours to make, and amaranth seed and sweet peas served with fermented almond cream and pea-miso purée. Well-heeled vegans are ecstatic! The 12-course tasting menu remains $335 per person due to increased labor costs. Note that a portion of proceeds from each meal also provides five food truck meals to food-insecure New Yorkers through Humm's nonprofit organization Rethink Food.
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Restaurant Sales Are Returning, But Restaurant Workers...Not So Much
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Pandemic-related closures displaced nearly 2 million restaurant workers. Restaurants are now re-opening, but many servers, bussers, and chefs found work elsewhere. Some started new food businesses that are thriving. Others found jobs with better pay and working conditions. From fine dining to fast food, America's restaurants are struggling to meet consumer demand.
$28.6 Billion "Restaurant Revitalization Fund" To Open For Grant Applications In April
Image Source: Open Table
Finally, some good news for American restaurants and bars: The federal $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package includes $28.6 billion in grants to help stop the bleeding. The fund offers a maximum of $10 million per restaurant group or $5 million for individual venues. Since most of last year's funds were scooped up by chain restaurants, to be eligible in this go round businesses cannot be publicly traded or have more than 20 locations. Over $5 billion of the grants are set aside for smaller venues with annual gross receipts below $500,000, and for the first 21 days, establishments owned by women, veterans, and economically or socially disadvantaged groups will be prioritized. The Small Business Administration is currently building digital infrastructure to administer the grants and expects to begin accepting applications by the end of April. Whew, just in time.
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Here's A Closer Look At The Federal "Restaurant Rescue Plan" Advancing Through Congress
Image Source: AP/Mary Altaffer
The latest $1.9 trillion COVID relief aid package includes $25 billion to help America's ailing restaurants stay afloat. About $5 billion of that amount is earmarked specifically for smaller restaurants with less than $500,000 in 2019 revenues. Overall, the Restaurant Relief Fund would provide grants of up to $5 million per restaurant with few spending restrictions. For multi-unit operations, the grant goes up to $10 million total with up to 20 locations eligible to receive aid. The relief bill is expected to pass through the House of Representatives this week and then head to the Senate.