On the heels of the news that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) federal government is set to open the application window for the long-delayed the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program next month, the federal government also said this week that it is targeting early April to launch a phased rollout of the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) – the implementation of the Restaurants Act, which was approved as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act approved by Congress earlier this month.

The RRF seeks to provide restaurants with grants equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss, up to $10 million per entity, or $5 million per physical location. Restaurants and bars have been among the hardest hit businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patrick Kelley, associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Capital Access, told committee members that the SBA is working on developing a technology solution capable of deploying hundreds of thousands of grants to restaurants, bars, and other eligible providers of food and drink, according to the Journal of Accountancy.

The program would begin a pilot phase, accepting applications based on prioritization established in the American Rescue Plan Act, which sets aside $5 billion for the smallest applicants ($500,000 or less in 2019 gross receipts) and requires that during the first 21 days of the grants, the SBA will prioritize applications from restaurants owned and operated or controlled by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The grant funds may be used to pay for the following eligible expenses: Payroll costs; Principal and interest payments on a mortgage, not including any prepayments on principal; Rent payments, not including prepayments; Utilities; Maintenance expenses including construction to accommodate outdoor seating and walls, floods, deck surfaces, furniture, fixtures, and equipment; Supplies including personal protective equipment and cleaning materials; Food and beverage expenses within the eligible entity’s scope of normal business practice before the covered period, which runs from Feb. 15, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021, or another date as determined by the SBA; Covered supplier costs; Operational expenses; Paid sick leave; and Any other expenses the SBA determines to be essential to maintaining the eligible entity.

The SVOG program was part of the $900 billion stimulus package in December, included within the Save Our Stages Act, which provides $15 billion in the form of “Shuttered Venue Operators Grants” for “live venues, indie movie theaters, and cultural institutions” like the Sweetwater Music HallThrockmorton Theatre and Marin Theatre Company, who have been thrashed by their complete inability to gather people in a room to experience live music and performance since mid-March.



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