The Texas Restaurant Association is urging Congress to reinstate the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which ran out of funds and left more than 12,000 Texans without assistance.
According to the TRA, additional financing is needed now since the third wave of COVID-19 cases has hotels curtailing operations or perhaps closing for days.
Owner Eric Silverstein said he either closed or operated at limited capacity his restaurant nearly all of last week because he was short-staffed. Simultaneously, he stated that government funds from the Eatery Revitalization Fund are assisting his second restaurant, The Peached Tortilla.
“That money helps now because it gives us breathing room. We could pay people; we can retain our entire management team, which we brought back,” Silverstein explained.
He said both businesses were eligible for the RRF grant, but he got an email from the Small Business Administration, which oversees the program, at the end of June, saying they had run out of money for the program.
The TRA said Bar Peached is one of more than 12,000 other qualified Texas applicants that weren’t awarded RRF grants.
“These 12,000 restaurants that didn’t receive any funding were at all kinds of different stages in that approval process,” said Kelsey Erickson Streufert. “Some had been fully approved, some had been sort of initially approved pending, you know, review of backup information.”
She said the program served as a lifeline for those who did get funding, and the omicron variant is highlighting the need for help, once again.
“If anything, it’s gotten worse because of the variant and its impact right around the holiday season. So, we’re excited that those conversations are picking up,” Streufert said.
She said they are currently working with lawmakers and hope to have more information in the next month or two about when the Restaurant Revitalization Fund could reopen.
“What we’re telling to Congress and the public right now is please don’t forget us,” she said.
Silverstein said Bar Peached got the RRF grant just days before the SBA announced it was out of money and said he knows others were not as lucky.
“I think the industry is about to change further, and I think a lot of people are probably at the end of the rope mentally,” he said.
In its email to Silverstein, the SBA said it is holding onto applications and will process them if Congress does appropriate more money for the program. Silverstein said he supports the TRA’s call for more funding.
“It’s honestly like we’re reliving part of what made 2020 so difficult, and we’re reliving it in early 2022,” he said.