Less than 10 days after its launch, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) has less than half the money it needs to fund a flood of relief requests from one of the sectors of the economy hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which administers the RRF, reported Wednesday that restaurants, bars, and other businesses providing on-site food and drink have submitted 266,000 applications seeking a total of $65 billion, far more than the $28.6 billion Congress allocated the program.
“The RRF was funded for $28.6 billion, so any additional funding requests over that amount will not be funded with the current appropriation,” SBA Public Affairs Officer Shannon Giles told the JofA in an email.
Unless Congress passes legislation providing the RRF with fresh funding, the program looks certain to provide the vast majority of its funding to eligible businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The American Rescue Plan Act, P.L. 117-2, which created the RRF, mandated that those businesses, which have submitted 147,000 applications totaling $29 billion, receive priority review for the first 21 days of the program.
In addition to a $5 billion set-aside established by Congress for applicants with gross receipts not more than $500,000, the SBA created two additional funding allocations for the smallest restaurants and other eating establishments, such as food trucks and carts:
- $500 million for applicants with 2019 gross receipts less than $50,000; and
- $4 billion for applicants with 2019 gross receipts between $500,000 and $1.5 million.
In the first days of the RRF program, which opened May 3, the SBA received:
- 13,114 applications from businesses with less than $50,000 in pre-pandemic revenue requesting $330 million in funds;
- 100,410 applications from businesses with less than $500,000 in annual pre-pandemic revenue requesting $8.14 billion in funds; and
- 61,535 applicants from businesses with between $500,000 and $1.5 million in annual pre-pandemic revenue requesting $15.1 billion in funds.
The SBA said it would keep the RRF application portal open because it still has potential funding available for eligible establishments with 2019 annual revenue of not more than $50,000. Eligible establishments that meet this revenue standard are encouraged to apply through SBA-recognized point-of-sale vendors or directly via the SBA online application portal.
Congress created the RRF to provide food and beverage providers with grants equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss, up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. The funds can be used for eligible expenses, such as payroll and rent.
Eligible entities for the RRF include the following:
- Food stands, food trucks, and food carts;
- Bars, saloons, lounges, and taverns;
- Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars;
- Bakeries, brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms, breweries, microbreweries, wineries, and distilleries at which on-site sales to the public comprise at least 33% of the gross receipts;
- Inns at which on-site sales of food and beverages to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts; and
- Licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products.
AICPA members can access a detailed summary of the RRF.
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— Jeff Drew ([email protected]) is a JofA senior editor.