Clark County’s hard-hit restaurants seek $ 28.6 billion in relief fund for survival


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These local restaurant operators can charge up to $ 5 million per location, or up to $ 10 million for multi-site operations, according to the National Restaurant Association.

The amount homeowners can receive is determined by subtracting 2020 sales from reported 2019 income, the news agency previously reported.

The fund comes as many local restaurateurs have not fully recovered from the pandemic, said Mike McDorman, president and CEO of the Greater Springfield Partnership.

The past year has seen a drop in income for a number of local restaurants. In some cases, the coronavirus has also caused a complete change in the way they operate, with many having to rely significantly on transfer or delivery options.

“Many have been hit very hard by all of this and (these restaurants) are just starting to see their business pick up,” McDorman said. “This assistance will be very important as (these restaurants) will start to see (customers) coming back.”

McDorman said it will be very important for local restaurants to have access to cash as they strive to fully reopen their operations and return to 100% capacity.

The pandemic has brought many challenges, including temporary closures and a temporary ban on in-person eating due to a statewide stay-at-home order.

Sierra Click, an employee of Stella Bleu Bistro, takes the temperature of all staff regularly throughout the day. BILL LACKEY / STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Many restaurants, some without any formal safeguard plan, had to adapt quickly to the situation and to the restrictions imposed by state officials.

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This included the Springfield Speakeasy Ramen restaurant, which had to quickly transition to a take-out model from March to May 2020. In-person dining was banned in the state during this time due to pandemic safety protocols.

This was a huge change for Speakeasy Ramen, which was primarily a restaurant and bar that started serving food in 2019, restaurant owner Kimberly Frazier said.

“The biggest impact has been stress. When the governor closed the dining halls, we didn’t have a backup, ”Frazier said.

“Restaurants have been hit hard. The changes were immediate. We had to do our own pivot, ”she said. “Within 24 hours we had a complete plan of how we were going to become a take out restaurant. It kept us in the game. But it hurt us.

The pandemic has also prompted Speakeasy Ramen to look at delivery options like DoorDash and expand its seating outdoors.

McDorman said a number of restaurants saw their revenues increase over the past year due to having to rely heavily on postponing, curbside pick-up and delivery or just seeing a drop. general number of customers.

Options such as postponement and delivery have also resulted in additional costs for local restaurateurs.

Although in-person meals are back, many restaurants still cannot operate at full capacity.

Darin Mitchell, chef and co-owner of Stella Bleu, said her restaurant had to close twice during the pandemic. The first time was due to the state’s decision to stay at home in March 2020 and the second time was in November due to a significant drop in activity.

The first decision to close was due to limiting overhead costs as well as the fact that a deferral model would not have been a good fit for the company, Mitchell said, noting that one of the main draws of its customers is the high-end dining experience.

Mitchell said if the business remained open during the initial ban on in-person dining, his establishment would have lost too much money.

When the business reopened, customers did not rush as the pandemic made people less comfortable dining out. The switch to remote work for some downtown businesses also had an impact on the restaurant’s clientele.

“The first week is that kind of honeymoon phase and then it goes. The problem is, there’s nothing else I can do to get people out, ”Mitchell added.

Rhiannon Fraley, an employee of Stella Bleu Bistro, prepares the menus before the dinner audience shows up on Tuesday.  BILL LACKEY / STAFF

Rhiannon Fraley, an employee of Stella Bleu Bistro, prepares the menus before the dinner audience shows up on Tuesday. BILL LACKEY / STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Stella Bleu closed its doors again in November due to the decline in activity due to the pandemic. Mitchell said they had started selling meals that could be taken home and baked this year and the restaurant reopened for dinner again in March.

Foodservice sales have fallen by $ 255 billion nationwide and 110,000 restaurants have closed since March 2020, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Grants from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will be distributed by the Small Business Administration and can be spent on a wider range of expenses than previous relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program which rolled out in April 2020.

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The fund will cover costs which include mortgages or rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage inventory, payroll and operational expenses. In addition, $ 5 billion of the fund will be set aside for restaurants with gross receipts of less than $ 500,000.

While the Paycheck Protection Program provided much needed support for small businesses, this money was primarily intended for payroll, but could be used for rent and utilities.

Mitchell, whose company applied for two PPP loans, said the program provides relief by covering payroll as well as some other expenses during the loan period, which can be completely waived.

However, he said more relief funds for local restaurants are crucial as many are still suffering.

He added that future funds should be allowed to cover more expenses related to running a restaurant, and not just payroll and rent.

Mitchell said he had lost 30% of his seating capacity due to safety protocols and although things have improved commercially since last year, the impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt.

Fraizer said his business started to generate profits again in February after breaking even in previous months. She said business has improved, but it will still be some time before a full recovery occurs.

facts and figures

$ 28.6 billion: amount of money from the Federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund

110,000: number of restaurants closed since the start of the pandemic

$ 255 billion: amount lost in foodservice sales during pandemic


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