Report: Two-thirds of NYS restaurants that applied for COVID relief grants were turned down


Only 35% of New York State restaurants, bars and caterers that have applied for COVID-19 assistance from the Federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund, according to a new report, will receive grants.

Nearly 9,800 restaurant establishments across the state have won a total of $ 3.7 billion from the RRF as of June 30, according to the US Small Business Administration, which manages the program. More than 17,860 applicants, who together applied for nearly $ 6 billion, were excluded.

Nationally, the percentage of successful RRF applicants was similar, with 101,000 companies raising money out of 278,300 applications received, the SBA report said. The plaintiffs requested a total of $ 72 billion, but the RRF only had $ 28.6 billion to distribute and has now closed.

The report comes as a bipartisan group in Congress lobbies to reopen the RRF with an additional $ 60 billion.

The SBA report does not include information on RRF grants to Long Island. Newsday filed a Freedom of Information request for the data.

“Final RRF program data, which will include information specific to individual payments, will arrive at a later date,” SBA spokesman Matt Coleman said on Wednesday.

The RRF, created by Congress and President Joe Biden in March, has provided up to $ 10 million per company to offset lost revenue during the pandemic.

The funds can be used to pay employee salaries, mortgage and rent payments, utility bills, unpaid debts, building outdoor seating, and other operating expenses. The money must be used before March 11, 2023.

The bulk of RRF grants went to restaurants, caterers and bars. Another 1.3% went to food trucks and less than 1% went to breweries and wineries.

The program has been the subject of several lawsuits by white restaurateurs because minorities, women, veterans and restaurant owners in poor neighborhoods have been prioritized for grants under the law.

In late May, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati struck down the SBA’s prioritization system, calling it “racial gerrymandering” and said it was using “unconstitutional criteria” to award RRF grants.

The SBA responded by revoking nearly 3,000 grant approvals for priority groups. Excluding cancellations, $ 18 billion, or 63%, of the money went to groups, according to agency data.

The impact of the pandemic on priority groups has been more severe. For example, black-owned businesses in New York state closed nearly three times the rate of white-owned businesses last year, according to an August report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said the RRF “has provided desperately needed relief to more than 100,000 restaurants and other food and beverage companies across the country, with significant funding earmarked for our hardest hit and underserved businesses. “

She continued, “The SBA will continue to work hard to ensure [eating and drinking establishments] get the resources they need to recover, rebuild and be resilient. “

New York State firms were No. 2 in RRF funding after California, according to the SBA report.


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