Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is urging restaurants to take advantage of federal funding intended to reenergize the country’s COVID-19 ravaged restaurant industry.
Signed into law by President Joe Biden, the American Rescue Plan will allocate roughly $28 billion into a Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
The funding, administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, will be offered to COVID-19-impacted small restaurants.
“So many local restaurants are beloved community gathering places and have had to make tough decisions, from staffing and hiring to even staying in business,” Fried said in a press release. “With restaurants a crucial partner for Florida’s farmers and ranchers, I encourage all eligible Florida restaurant businesses to take advantage of these federal recovery funds, especially women, veteran, and disadvantaged restaurant operators.”
According to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), roughly 10,000 restaurants shuttered in Florida amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, nearly 65% of restaurants are reporting lower revenue.
The ongoing economic woes, FRLA notes, are rippling toward the agriculture community. Restaurants serve as a “key market” for state agriculture producers who provide a variety of products including seafood, meat and fresh produce.
“We are thrilled with the passage of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is a lifeline for our operators who are trying to keep their doors open and their staff employed,” said FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover. “We encourage all Florida restaurants, bars, and other eligible recipients to prepare for the launch of the program to secure these much-needed funds.”
The SBA draft application and supporting documentation can be found online. The FRLA has also provided a FAQ document for restaurant owners.
“Eligible entities who have experienced pandemic-related revenue loss include restaurants, food stands, food trucks and carts, caterers, bars, bakeries, brewpubs, wineries, distilleries, and many others,” the press release adds.
An SBA program guide, meanwhile, is available in both English and Spanish.