TUCSON, Ariz. - Some help is on the menu for restaurants struggling to survive the COVID pandemic. Here is more on what restaurant owners need to know about some money Governor Ducey announced to help restaurants move their service outdoors.
The Arizona Restaurant Association says before COVID, restaurants in this state were an almost $14 billion dollar industry that created more than 200 thousand jobs.
Since COVID, restaurants have been looking to expand outdoors as a way to spread out for social distancing and still serve enough customers to make a profit. Tucson and Pima County have already taken steps to make it easier for restaurants to set up outside.
Now Governor Doug Ducey has announced a million dollars in grants to help restaurants pay for those moves. Dan Bogert, of the Arizona Restaurant Association, says starting Monday restaurants can contact the Arizona Commerce Authority to apply for a share of the grant.
“You need to be an Arizona owned business, have 50 employees or less, and have already been approved by your local governing board, and the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control for an expansion. And at that point, you can qualify as a $10,000 grant,” said Bogert.
Some restaurants do not have outdoor space right next to their dining rooms. Normal regulations could prevent those restaurants from expanding outdoors but the Governor ordered those rules lifted.
Bogert said, “Because there's a lot of restaurants where their landlords have given them permission to expand into the parking lot, but they have to cross a sidewalk, to get there. And that sidewalk is preventing them from getting that expansion and that was under current rules with the governor's executive order if that's no longer the case.”
Bogert said between now and when applications open on Monday, restaurant owners should collect any local permits and liquor licenses they need to expand outside.