JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The federal government is helping businesses keep their doors open through its $28.6 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund. It closed for new applicants on Monday.
To qualify, businesses must have proved at least 33% of their sales came from food and beverages and provide their tax return showing their losses since 2019. There’s a cap of $10 million per business and $5 million per location.
The Mini Bar told News4Jax when the Restaurant Revitalization Fund became available on May 3, owner Brooke Sams jumped to apply.
Brooke said the grant money they received was calculated by taking its 2019 revenue subtracting it from the 2020 revenue – which there was a loss. Then taking out the PPP money they were granted last year. Her account said they are the first in the city to get this money and the first thing they did was hand $10,000 in bonuses to their team.
“I still got goosebumps we were shocked especially for Gate Parkway because we thought so hard and so long to get that money,” said Sams.
Sams said while the money is substantial, it did not cover the hit they took.
News4Jax spoke with Sams last July. At the time, her southside location did not qualify for any city, state or federal funding since it opened right as the pandemic began, but her Jacksonville Beach location did – so the Mini Bar there received both rounds of PPP.
“We also received an economic injury disaster loan,” said Sams. “So now this money will be used to keep things going and to be able to make those interest payments back to the SBA from that loan we had to take out.”
By May 18th, the Small Business Association saw more than 303,000 applications – representing $69 billion in relief funds.
The RRF program prioritized women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals for the first three weeks of launching, then applications were opened more widely. 122,00 women business owners applied for the grant, including Sams.
“40% of our staff has been with us over a year,” she said. “So each of them received $500 this week from us and for us it was really big because they chose to stay and work with us when they could’ve gone home They’re the ones that help us get through it all.”
The SBA says the funds can be used for payroll costs, rent, utility, maintenance, business operating expenses, and supplies.
But since Monday, the portal has been closed for new applications because of the overwhelming response. Business owners are already calling for more funds.
News4Jax reached out to the city of Jacksonville and the Small Business Association to see how many local businesses received Restaurant Revitalization Fund. We are waiting to hear back.
Sams is encouraging other business owners to reach out to their local and state representative to advocate for more funding to become available.