TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — COVID cutbacks and shutdowns hit restaurants especially hard, but the American Rescue Plan Congress passed last week sets aside billions of dollars to help restaurants rebound. Here’s more on what help is coming and how restaurants can get it.
For Doug Levy it’s hard to believe it’s been a year since COVID led him to shut down his dining room at Feast.
“This is going to make me emotional. We have been so fortunate to have the community stepped forward and help us keep our doors open.”
He says without patrons in the dining room, public donations helped him keep the restaurant active feeding front line workers, first responders and the homeless.
Dan Bogert of the Arizona Restaurant Association says the pandemic shut down about 12% of the state’s restaurants.
“What we've seen as we've seen about 1200 of our restaurants that were in business in February of 2020 closed down permanently during that year.”
Now, the Rescue Plan passed by Congress and signed by the President channels more than 28 Billion dollars to help the remaining restaurants recover.
Bogert says, “In order to qualify for the program, you can't be traded on the stock market, so you have to be independently owned, so you can't be publicly owned, and you have to have 20 or less locations so if you're a Restaurant Group, with over 20 locations you won’t qualify for this program.”
Dan Bogert says the money can come as a grant but to get it a restaurant needs to calculate how much its income dropped in 2020 compared to 2019---before the pandemic.
“So the first thing is to go back and figure out what those numbers are, and if you are a Paycheck Protection Program recipient, you're going to want to deduct what you received from your Paycheck Protection Program loans from the revenue qualification. That will give you some sense of the funding that you can be qualified for and that should help you in your planning process.”
He says it will probably be sometime next month before the Small Business Administration has the system ready to go, so restaurant owners should seek out other Federal and local assistance to keep going in the meantime.
Doug Levy says he’s encouraged by the assistance plan and by the fact vaccinations have opened to restaurant workers---to bring him closer to the day these tables can fill up again.