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Mid-Michigan bars and restaurants eager for share of $28 billion rescue fund

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) - Help is on the way for beleaguered bars and restaurants.

Beginning Friday, foodservice establishments can begin registering for the $28.6 billion federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The pot is part of the massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and designed to help make up for lost sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whatever opinion you have on the past year, it’s still the fact remains that a lot of hard working restaurants -- whether it’s the owners all the way down to the employees, managers, servers, dishwashers -- they had a tough year,” said Stefan Harris, who owns Leo’s Coney Island off Court Street in Flint.

He is hopeful this $28.6 billion pot of money will be the shot in the arm his business and millions of others need. Registration for the fund began Friday and businesses can begin filing formal applications on Monday.

“The first 21 days are open for minorities, women, veteran and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses, and $5 billion was set aside for the small businesses that have under $500,000 in sales,” said Small Business Development Corp. Business Consultant Shannon Schwabe.

She said the application process will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Bars and restaurants can apply to be reimbursed for lost sales during the pandemic. Losses will be calculated by adding up gross receipts from 2019 and comparing that sum to sales in 2020. Proof of those gross sales will be required during the application process.

Other establishments like bakeries, breweries, wineries and inns will be required to show at least 33% of their gross receipts came from on-site sales to the public.

How soon businesses could receive the funding remains unclear.

“Not everyone is going to get this. So it’s definitely a good effort to help the restaurant industry, but the restaurant industry also has to be looking at other ways to make some changes,” Schwabe said.

Harris plans to apply for help with his Leo’s Coney Island location.

“We’re grateful this is the start of something,” he said. “Hopefully that will allow us to get back on our feet.”

Click here for registration and application information.

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