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Local restaurant owners urging Senate to replenish Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Local restaurants hope for more federal funding
RRF Pic for web.png
Posted at 9:32 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 21:32:42-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The pandemic may seem like it is mostly in the review mirror but some local restaurants are still feeling the effects financially.

That’s why some local restaurants hope the Senate will vote to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund this week. That fund rescued many businesses as they were able to open back up in 2021.

If not, they say some family-owned businesses will likely have to close.

“It’s not a guess, you will see thousands of restaurants close across the United States,” Eddie Sahm the COO of Sahms Hospitality Group said. “It’s not going to be Olive Garden. It’s going to be the mom-and-pop shops that have been here for 20 years in the community.”

According to the Small Business Administration, $72 billion worth of assistance was requested by restaurants across the country. Only $28.6 billion was allocated.

SBA says 101,000 RRF payments were delivered, but since there was so much interest and not enough funding several people didn’t receive any funding even though they qualified. Underserved populations received approximately $18 billion in RRF grant awards including:

  • Women-Owned businesses ~ $7.5 billion
  • Veteran-Owned businesses ~ $1 billion
  • Social and economically disadvantaged-Owned businesses ~ $6.7 billion
  • Businesses Owned by Representatives of Multiple Underserved Populations ~ $2.8 billion

The graph below breaks down what surrounding states received.

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Table of RRF Funding

Sahm, an Indianapolis business owner, was one of those restaurant owners who requested funds but didn’t get any. He says it's not fair for businesses that qualified for funding but did not get any. He feels like the federal government was picking winners and losers.

"This is help that we need if you want to see places stay open and continue operating,” Sahm said. “You are going see the story of closures coming really fast and they are not going to be the places you didn't go to. They are going to be the places you've heard about, that you relied on, you told your friends about and that made living in Indianapolis a better place to live."

According to the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging association over $614 million worth of relief was requested across the state, $242 million of that was received.

They say over 2,409 restaurants that have requested help from the federal government did not receive anything.

There is currently a disagreement on Capitol Hill about how to move forward. Democrats feel this is emergency funding, but Republicans don't want to allocate new dollars. Instead, they'd rather use offset dollars from other Covid-19 funding.

The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association says small businesses and their livelihoods shouldn't be caught in the middle of politics.

"This isn't a second bailout of the restaurant industry,” Patrick Tamm, CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association said. “This is simply completing the mission of the restaurant revitalization fund and fully addressing the pandemic and government-mandated shutdowns of an industry that was hardest hit.“

WRTV reached out to Senator Todd Young and Senator Mike Braun to get their take on the legislation, but are awaiting a response. For the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to be brought back up in the Senate, it needs 60 votes.

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