ROCHESTER, NY (WROCLawmakers are proposing an extension of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, part of the US bailout, for restaurants still recovering from the pandemic. The initial grant of $ 28.6 billion prioritized businesses owned by minorities, such as women, veterans and people of color. But, less than a third of the 362,000 eligible applicants actually got help.
The $ 28.6 billion initially allocated to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund was a big step forward in addressing the current and unique economic crisis that restaurants in our nations went through last year. Demand for the fund has simply exceeded supply, and we need to make sure these companies get the resources they desperately need, said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Independent restaurants are vital to our economy and this additional $ 60 billion funding increase will provide direct assistance to the Restaurant Owner Congress originally intended to help and assist these vital businesses keep their doors open.
Part of those left out includes Bubby’s BBQ in Rochester. Co-owner Demetrius Washington Ellison opened the restaurant in December, amid the pandemic. It was not an easy task. “It was just some sort of rambling business trying to get started and run,” he said.
It was difficult, but Ellison was hoping the pandemic would subside and the service would eventually explode. Ellison asked for help with the restaurant revitalization he was a priority for as a black business owner. He became eligible for $ 42,000. But he didn’t get the money instead, he and his business partner had to find other ways to be resourceful and make ends meet.
“Honestly, it was very disappointing,” Ellison said. “I lost a lot of sleep to be honest, in my mindset we weren’t going to be able to reopen without it,” he said. But they were able to survive, after being resourceful. For example, they only operated two days a week before moving to three.
Gillibrand is proposing an extension of the restaurant revitalization grant, saying demand far exceeds supply. She and other lawmakers are asking for an additional $ 60 billion in aid, a number they say will cover all minority candidates like Ellison who were left out the first time around.
“They are on the front line. They are already approved, ”she said. Gillibrand says the bill enjoys bipartisan and bicameral support. She is convinced that it would pass, if it gets to the Senate.
Famous restaurant owner Tom Colicchio echoes Gillibrand’s statements. He says many feel restaurants are back and better than ever, but that’s not true for everyone. “We’ve been a bit busier the last few months, but two months of income won’t make up for zero months of income or very little income,” he said.
Ellison says he would love to get the money he originally qualified for. But for now, he can only be as optimistic as possible for the months to come.
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