“We’re excited for restaurants. We want everybody to get some money here in Georgia.”
The president and CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association, Karen Bremer, is talking about cash from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. On Monday, businesses in the food industry can begin the process of applying to the U.S. Small Business Administration for the grants.
It’s a new pipeline of funding made available by the American Rescue Plan Act approved by Congress earlier this year.
“There’s a lot of individually-owned and operated restaurants around the state, and I know many could not get the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) or maybe some of the other financing that was available,” Bremer tells WSB Radio. “So, I’m hoping they’ll be able to get the money this go-around.”
She says 2020 was “worse than I thought it was going to be” in terms of the massive financial pandemic hit to Georgia’s restaurants. “We were on track to do $25 billion in revenue, and we were down $5 billion in revenue.” Permanent closures – between 3,500 and 4,000 restaurants in Georgia.
But here’s the good news. With more and more Georgians getting vaccinated, demand for eating-out is on the upswing. Throw in the spring weather for outdoor dining, and restaurants are doing what they can to welcome customers back amid health safety precautions.
The bad news…at least for now: Restaurants state-wide are navigating staff shortages. Bremer says there’s been a “dramatic migration” of women who’ve left the industry’s workforce, due to the pandemic’s trickle-down effects.
“52% of all of our workers are women, and 71% of servers are women,” Bremer says. “And many women have left the workforce because of child-care, with many of the daycare centers closing.”
So due to that, she has this request of diners: “Let’s have some patience right now at the restaurants. Nobody wants to be short-staffed right now, and they’re doing the best that they can.”
The new financing being made available via the RRF (Restaurant Revitalization Fund) allows restaurants to potentially get funding up to $10 million per business – up to $5 million per physical location – according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s guidelines. If awarded, recipients don’t have to repay the money, if it’s used for eligible uses by March of 2023.
The portal for businesses to apply opens Monday, May 3, 2021 at noon.