May 6 (UPI) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday promoted a provision of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief legislation aimed at providing funds to foodservice locations affected by the pandemic.
In a speech from the White House, Biden outlined the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which provides grants of up to $10 million to restaurants, bars, food trucks, and other food and drink establishments to cover expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities and supplies.
“Restaurants are more than a major driver of our economy. They’re woven into the fabric of our communities,” Biden said.
The program was established under Biden’s American Rescue Plan which was signed into law in March. Applications opened to eligible businesses in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and five U.S. territories on Monday and Biden said the Small Business Administration has since received a “staggering” 186,200 applications.
Under the program, the Biden administration will provide funding to cover pandemic-related revenue losses of up to $10 million. A business can receive no more than $5 million per physical location and the minimum award is $1,000.
Recipients are not required to repay the funding if funds are used for eligible purposes before March 11, 2023.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there will be “a very rapid turnaround” with the first businesses awarded grants under the pilot programs receiving funds on Friday and businesses that began applying this week receiving their funding in up to 14 days.
The SBA will prioritize applications owned and run by women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals for the first 21 days before moving to a first-come, first-served basis.
On Wednesday, Biden visited Taqueria Las Gemelas in Washington, D.C., which he said was awarded $677,000 under the program and was the first restaurant in the country to receive funds.
The president said that restaurants “are the gateway to opportunity, a key part of the American story,” for many families.
“These are families of all races, all ethnic backgrounds, all nationalities in this country and who have built their American dream around a family, a family-owned restaurant. And for more workers their own story of economic progress starts in a restaurant,” he said.
Biden added that the nation is “relying on restaurants to play a big role in our recovery” from the economic impacts of the pandemic.”
“If we want our economy to recover the way that deals everyone in, then our restaurants need a seat at the table, no pun intended,” he said.
“That’s what we’re giving them. That’s what this program is about — a seat at the table.”