Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation today joined with hospitality industry representatives to invite owners of local dining establishments to apply for aid from the newly opened Restaurant Revitalization Fund.  The delegation pushed for the $28.6-billion restaurant relief fund to be included in the American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law in March.  Today’s event was held at The District, a popular restaurant in Providence’s Jewelry District.

More from a press release from Rhode Island’s delegation;

“I’m proud to have helped make the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund a reality and pleased the SBA is finally accepting applications.  Nationwide, over 41,000 applications were submitted in the first hour of the web site going live.  So clearly the interest and need is there.  I encourage all eligible Rhode Island restaurants and bars that were hit hard by the pandemic to apply and I will do everything I can to ensure these federal funds are allocated swiftly and equitably . I will continue working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to meet demand with an adequate supply of federal relief and will try to replenish these funds if necessary,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

“Rhode Island’s world-class restaurants have responded to the evolving challenges of COVID-19 with patience and creativity.  The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is now open to help independent restaurants cover some of the costs and losses they’ve incurred as a result, and to keep Rhode Islanders on the payroll,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “I’m thrilled that we were able to secure this lifeline for local eateries and food businesses.”

“Rhode Island’s independent restaurants and bars have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but thanks to the American Rescue Plan, help is on the way,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.  “Starting this week, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will begin distributing millions of dollars to Rhode Island’s food businesses that need it most.  Alongside my colleagues in Congress, I’m proud of our work to deliver for Rhode Island’s food service industry and protect such important cornerstones of our communities.”

“Rhode Island dining scene is second to none. Our high-quality restaurants, bars, bakeries, and coffee shops are the envy of cities like New York and Boston,” said Congressman David Cicilline.  “It’s been an incredibly difficult year for the small business owners who run these establishments.  That’s why it was so important that we included $28.6 billion in the American Rescue Plan so restaurants can cover payroll and other expenses right now.  These critical resources will help ensure that Rhode Island remains a destination for high-quality food and drink in the years ahead.”

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is poised to provide a boost to the state’s economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.  About 11 percent of Rhode Island’s jobs are in the food service industry, according to the National Restaurant Association.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides grants to restaurants and other qualifying food industry businesses, including breweries, caterers, bakeries, and food trucks.  Eligible expenses include payroll, mortgage and rent payments, business debt service, utilities, maintenance, outdoor seating, business supplies, food and beverage costs, certain supplier costs, and operating expenses.   The grants of up to $10 million per business and up to $5 million per physical location will be based on revenue losses during the ongoing public health emergency.  The minimum award is $1,000.

“Over the last 14 months, RIHA has worked tirelessly to reopen our industry as quickly and safely as possible, while also working with our federal and state elected officials to secure our industry much needed economic relief,” said Dale Venturini, President and CEO of the RI Hospitality Association.  “The RRF is going to be a vital part of our industry’s recovery and on behalf of the entire hospitality industry in Rhode Island, we want to offer our sincere thanks to Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, Congressman Langevin and Congressman Cicilline.  They have always been wonderful partners with us and over the last year, have done everything they could to help our industry and our state.”

“Wherever they pop up, restaurants are an expression of the community and culture in which they reside.  Without them we’d be missing so much more than nourishment from food, but nourishment from the very fabric of our society,” said Kristin Gennuso, co-owner of Chez Pascal & The Wurst Kitchen.  “This Restaurant Revitalization Fund is one of the last efforts, I would imagine that will be available to our little havens of solace.  I implore you fellow restauranteurs to accept this recognition and help make sure we don’t lose the character, the culture and yes, the cuisine, that is so very important to all our well-being.”

“Rhode Island is a destination known worldwide for our dining scene.  The last 14 months have been extremely challenging for our restaurateurs, their employees and families.  The Restaurant Revitalization Fund will provide a much needed opportunity to help our restaurants come back strong.  We are very fortunate in Rhode Island to have a federal delegation that understands the needs of our state’s restaurant community and we are thankful to them all,” said Rick Simone, founder of the Ocean State Coalition and Executive Director of the Federal Hill Commerce Association.

The program will be reserved for certain priority groups for the first 21 days, including businesses that are majority owned by women, veterans, or people who are socially or economically disadvantaged.  Applicants can apply directly through the SBA’s website or SBA-recognized Point of Sale vendors. 

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).