Your Guide to Free Money Through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The American Rescue Plan Act throws a $28.6 billion lifeline to the countless restaurants and bars affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) has not garnered the same-level of attention as other aspects of the American Rescue Plan; however, for an industry which lost an estimated $250 billion in revenue during the Pandemic, the RRF presents a unique opportunity for meaningful revitalization.

The RRF allows eligible entities to receive the difference between their 2019 and 2020 revenue in a federal grant, "Eligible entity" is defined broadly under the RRF, and includes: food stands, food trucks, caterers, saloons, bars, inns, taverns, and more. However, ostensibly learning from the backlash of the Payroll Protection Plan rollout, "eligible entity" does not include restaurant groups operating more than 20 locations (as of March 13, 2020) or publicly-traded companies.

Moreover, the RRF aims to assist truly small business, setting aside $5 billion for entities with 2019 gross receipts not exceeding $500,000. Importantly, during the first 21-days in which funds are granted, the RRF requires prioritization for small businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged groups.

Once received, the funds may be used to pay for the following expenses, so long as they were incurred "as a direct result of, or during, the COVID-19 pandemic:"

  • Payroll costs;
  • Payments of principal or interest on any mortgage;
  • Rent payments;
  • Utilities;
  • Maintenance expenses;
  • Supplies including PPE and cleaning materials;
  • Food and beverage expenses within the scope of the normal business of the entity before the covered period (February 15, 2020 through December 31, 2021);
  • Operational expenses;
  • Paid sick leave; and
  • Any other expense that the Administrator (the Small Business Administration) determines to be essential to maintaining the eligible entity.

Business seeking these grants must apply through the government's System for Award Management (SAM).  Proprietors should plan to have documentation available proving 2019 and 2020 revenues, and to certify the grant funds are necessary to support ongoing operations. The final application forms have not yet been released. Setting up access to the grants will require gathering specific information and will take time to receive responses from the various sign-up platforms.