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SBA set to open Restaurant Revitalization Fund, reopens shuttered venue registration

🕐 6 min read

The SBA will begin registration for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund on Friday, April 30 and open applications on Monday, May 3.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman on April 27 announced the U.S. Small Business Administration will begin registrations on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 9 a.m. EDT and open applications on Monday, May 3, 2021, at noon EDT for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The online application will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted. 

“Restaurants are the core of our neighborhoods and propel economic activity on main streets across the nation. They are among the businesses that have been hardest hit and need support to survive this pandemic. We want restaurants to know that help is here,” said Guzman. “The SBA has focused on the marketplace realities of our food and beverage businesses in designing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to meet businesses where they are. And we are committed to equity to ensure our smaller and underserved businesses, which have suffered the most, can access this critical relief, recover, and grow more resilient.”

Established under the American Rescue Plan, and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides a total of $28.6 billion in direct relief funds to restaurants and other hard-hit food establishments that have experienced economic distress and significant operational losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Funds must be used for allowable expenses by March 11, 2023. 

“Recognizing the great urgency to help restaurants keep their doors open – and with a clear mandate from Congress – the SBA worked at a breakneck speed and is excited to launch this program,” said Patrick Kelley, SBA Associate Administrator, Office of Capital Access. “From day one, we engaged with diverse stakeholders in the food industry community to make sure we built and delivered the program equitably, quickly, and efficiently.”

In preparation, the SBA recommends qualifying applicants familiarize themselves with the application process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient application experience, specifically by:

  • Registering for an account in advance at restaurants.sba.gov starting Friday, April 30, 2021, at 9 a.m. EDT.
  • Reviewing the official guidance, including program guide, frequently asked questions, and application sample.
  • Preparing the required documentation.
  • Working with a point-of-sale vendor or visiting restaurants.sba.gov to submit an application when the application portal opens. [Note: If an applicant is working with a point-of-sale vendor, they do not need to register beforehand on the site.]
  • Attending a live recorded virtual training webinar.

For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize funding applications from businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. All eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as the portal opens. Following the 21 days, all eligible applications will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Consistent with the legislation and the intent of Congress, the SBA continues to take steps to ensure the equitable distribution of relief, particularly for the smallest businesses, by creating a $9.5 billion set-aside: $5 billion for applicants with 2019 gross receipts of not more than $500,000; $4 billion is set aside for applicants with 2019 gross receipts from $500,001 to $1,500,000; and $500 million for applicants with 2019 gross receipts not more than $50,000.

The U.S. Small Business Administration earlier announced it reopened the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal on April  24, at 12:30 p.m. EDT for operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums and movie theatres, as well as live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives to apply for critical economic relief.

“We recognize the urgency and need to get this program up and running,” said Barb Carson, deputy associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. “With venue operators in danger of closing, every day that passes by is a day that these businesses cannot afford. We remain dedicated to delivering emergency aid as quickly as possible and will begin reviewing the applications on Saturday as they are submitted.”

While working with vendors to fix technology issues that occurred with the April 8 initial opening, the SBA identified and resolved other concerns and enhanced the applicant experience with the portal. The following updates have been made:

  • Clarifying and making program documentation more user-friendly;
  • Improving application portal security mechanisms;
  • Adding an industry-standard waiting room technology to address the high interest in the program and provide an orderly application process for fair and smooth performance; and
  • Updating application features, including: a new revenue chart, the ability to upload multiple attachments, and an improved application flow to match the eligible entity types and their respective required documentation.

In preparation for the application portal reopening, the SBA recommends eligible applicants take the following actions:

SBA’s collaboration with several live venue, cultural and related industry organizations has been vital to the agency’s understanding of the user experience for potential SVOG applicants, and the SBA will continue to partner with them through the application and grant awarding processes.

For more information and to view applicant resources, visit www.sba.gov/svogrant. For Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal technical assistance such as a password reset, browser suggestions, or how to use the multi-factor authentication with an app and the QR code, applicants can call 1-800-659-2955 or, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing 1-800-877-8339 and follow the prompts to SVOG assistance. The call center is open today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and, starting Saturday, April 24, the center will be open 24 hours a day through Monday evening at 8 p.m. 

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant background

The SVOG program was appropriated more than $16.2 billion for grants via the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. Of these funds, at least $2 billion is reserved for eligible SVOG applications with up to 50 full-time employees. Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum amount of $10 million for a single grant.

The SBA is accepting SVOG applications on a first-in, first-out basis and allocating applicants to respective priority periods as it receives applications. The first 14 days of SVOG awards, which are expected to begin in mid-May, will be dedicated to entities that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second 14 days (days 15-28) will include entities that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020. Following those periods, SVOG awards will include entities that suffered a 25% or greater revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020.

SBA’s resource partners, including SCORE business mentorsSmall Business Development CentersWomen’s Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, are available to provide entities with individual guidance on their applications. (Per federal grant program guidelines that require the same and equal information be provided to each applicant, SBA’s team members are limited on responses they can provide to individual, specific questions regarding SVOG eligibility, potential grant amount, or other detailed information.)

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