Texas Border Business
Washington, D.C. – The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) has been an incredibly effective recovery tool for the restaurant industry, but for too many owners, the $28.6 billion in funding won’t last long enough for them receive a dollar in disaster relief. Tomorrow, Congress will unveil the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 to provide $60 billion in additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than 362,000 applications for a total of $75 billion in funding were received in the three weeks the RRF application portal was open. The average grant application was for just over $200,000. This means that more than half of the eating and drinking establishments open at the beginning of the pandemic operated with a severe revenue loss in the last year.
Since the onset of the pandemic shutdowns in March 2020, the restaurant industry has lost $290 billion in sales, 90,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term, and more than 1.5 million jobs have not been recovered.
While the economy continues to strengthen, the path to recovery for restaurants remains uncertain. Consumer spending in restaurants in April was still $1.4 billion below pre-pandemic levels, and 17 states and territories still have some level of capacity limits. Most operators are still well below normal staffing levels and are not on a path to sustained profitability for the year. The challenges facing the restaurant industry have not subsided as the country emerges from the pandemic.
National Restaurant Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy released the following statement on the introduction of the bill:
“When the RRF portal closed in May, small business restaurant owners all wanted to know ‘what’s next’ for their pending applications. The introduction of this additional $60 billion in funding not only answers that question but proves once again that Congress understands and supports the foodservice industry.
“We appreciate the leadership of Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-PA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who have championed the restaurant industry throughout the pandemic. Their bipartisan support continues to be critical for local restaurants needing access to relief for full recovery.
“The success of the RRF so far is, in large part, because the SBA focused on making the program simple and accessible. We appreciate how swiftly they were able to establish a program unlike anything they had administrated before and believe it has the structure to sustain additional funding.
“For much of the country, life is starting to feel close to normal. While restaurants are optimistic about this trend, we’re still in the early days of rebuilding and are far from recovery. Industry revenue continues to be below expectations and in many states we’re still operating under limitations. To make sure we don’t lose our rebuilding momentum, we will continue to focus on creating access to the tools the industry needs to address outstanding obligations and to manage the new challenges that could slow our recovery.”