Golden Corral, Subway Franchises Biggest Recipients of $ 646 Million in Relief Fund for SBA Restaurants in North Carolina

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RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) – Bars and restaurants in North Carolina have received hundreds of millions of dollars from a federal program, but many still need more.

When the owners of Funnel Queens learned they qualified for $ 52,000 from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, they were shocked.

“It was a feeling of relief for sure. We were like, ‘Oh my God, this is something amazing,’ it came out of nowhere,” said owners Debra Williams, Charlotte Wade and Brandi Cunningham.

Before the pandemic, the family did their business by setting up a tent at festivals, fairs and events. When COVID-19 put an end to all these gatherings, Funnel Queens had to get creative.

“It definitely challenged us. As a tent operation we could never have continued in this vein,” said Williams.

This transition from a tent to a food truck was made possible by federal funds provided through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (FRR).

According to data from the Small Business Administration, as of June 30, 2,579 North Carolina businesses have obtained loans totaling $ 646,599,223 through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The average loan was just over $ 250,700.

The relief fund was set up as part of the US bailout, the Biden administration’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan. The fund was created specifically for bars, restaurants, food trucks, caterers and similar businesses hit hard by the pandemic. In total, the program distributed $ 28.6 billion.

But many more companies have submitted grant proposals. According to the data, in North Carolina alone, 6,628 companies submitted a proposal, totaling more than $ 1.5 billion in requested funds.

Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, said the hospitality industry is suffering.

“It’s pretty widely known that restaurants, hotels, and taverns across the state have suffered disproportionately during COVID-19,” Minges said. “We have advocated at all levels of government to get relief for this industry – for the restaurants, hotels and bars that have suffered – and we just haven’t received the relief they need to keep doing it. business in our state. “

Minges said that through the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants, bars and hotels lost $ 5 billion statewide, and many were unable to recoup those losses. She added that some have obtained funding through the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Overall, there is still a gap of around $ 3 billion in losses that just hasn’t been closed,” Minges said.

Find out which companies have received funds near you

As of June 17, the last day for which complete data is available, 229 restaurants in Raleigh, 144 restaurants in Durham and 51 in Fayetteville have secured loans through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

The program attempted to prioritize funds for economically and socially disadvantaged business owners, veterans and women.

In North Carolina, just over a third of funds went to historically marginalized business owners. Less than 10% went to veteran-owned businesses, and about 43% went to women-owned businesses.

Blend of Soul was another female-owned business that benefited from the fund.

“We’re like, well, we’re the priority,” said Blend of Soul owners Kiera Gardner and Margo Newkirk. “For us, it was like, my God, we can’t get any funding like we just felt like it just wasn’t any other option.”

The cold-pressed juice company did not receive money from the paycheck protection program offered months earlier. And like Funnel Queens, the company has relied on its marketing at community events.

“It took a hit, I mean we have to be honest, we had to shoot from several spots that we didn’t think we had to do,” Gardner and Newkirk said.

The duo reinvented themselves by increasing their sales and online presence. The money they received from the RRF helped them buy a commercial juicer.

Minges said his organization had suggested that, in future fundraising efforts, the North Carolina State Legislature and Governor Roy Cooper focus on need – prioritizing companies that have lost 20 % of their year-over-year income during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a non-discretionary way of administering money. We believe it could be done in a fair and equitable manner, and that there are no winners or losers,” Minges said. “It is literally a pot of money going to those who have experienced this 20% drop in their income and it is fair and equal for all.”

Most of the loans distributed to restaurants in North Carolina did not go to a franchise, but of those that did, the Golden Corral and Subway franchises requested the most money, $ 37.8 million and 6 million dollars respectively.

While the majority of North Carolina’s 18,000 restaurants, bars and hotels are still waiting to be relieved, Minges said the most important thing customers can do is be kind as businesses grapple with shortages. personnel and procurement.

“We’re just asking for kindness, kindness for the workers who persevere in these difficult times,” Minges said. “A little kindness goes a long, long way.”

Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All rights reserved.

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