Hoping to have a less turbulent, bug-laden rollout than the Small Business Administration’s long-delayed Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, which went live on Monday, the SBA is set go live on Monday, May 3rd with the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The $28.6 billion program, created as part of last month’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, will offer grants of up to $10 million to replace lost sales for bars, restaurants, caterers and food trucks, among others.

SBA officials told the NY Times the restaurant fund ran a seven-day test intended to help the agency avoid the kind of technical fiasco that plagued the venue program. “Help is here,” Isabella Casillas Guzman, the agency’s administrator, said of the program. “We’re rolling out this program to make sure that these businesses can meet payroll, purchase supplies and get what they need in place to transition to today’s Covid-restricted marketplace.”

The amount each businesses can receive is generally the difference between its 2019 and 2020 gross receipts, minus certain other federal assistance such as Paycheck Protection Program loans.

The major caveat is that the funding is expected to go very quickly. “Everyone should apply on Day 1,” Patrick Kelley, the head of the agency’s Office of Capital Access, told attendees at a webinar last week organized by the Independent Restaurant Coalition, according to the Times. Lawmakers projected at least $120 billion in demand for the restaurant fund, Mr. Kelley said, but provided money for less than a quarter of that amount.

All eligible businesses will be able to apply starting on Monday, but for the first 21 days, the Small Business Administration will approve claims exclusively from businesses that are majority-owned by people who fall into one of the priority groups designated by Congress: women, veterans, and individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged. The agency said that latter group includes those who meet certain income and asset limits and are Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-Pacific American or South Asian American.

Publicly traded companies, businesses with more than 20 locations and restaurants that have permanently closed are ineligible for the grants. Applications can be submitted through a Small Business Administration website and some point-of-sale systems. The technology companies Clover, NCR Corporation, Square and Toast are working with the agency to enable applications for their customers.



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