Biden Says Restaurant Grants Show Quick Use of Rescue Money

President Joe Biden said a $28.6 billion program that gives grants to restaurants hit by the pandemic shows how his administration is quickly making use of a rescue plan he signed into law in March.

Since the government started accepting applications for the program this week, about 186,200 business already have applied, Biden said at the White House on Wednesday.

“We’re putting the American Rescue Plan to work quickly and effectively,” Biden said Wednesday at the White House.

Restaurants are among the businesses hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, as states forced many to temporarily close, curtail hours and reduce seating.

Under the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief measure Biden signed in March, restaurants can apply for grants ranging from $1,000 to $5 million per location, or $10 million for those with 20 or fewer locations.

“We want to make sure that our restaurants, bars and other dining establishments can staff back up, and they can come back as well,” Biden said. He called restaurants “the gateway to opportunity” for many families.

The Small Business Administration began accepting grant applications on Monday and will continue until the money is fully spent. For the first three weeks, preference will be given to applicants that are majority owned by women, veterans or “disadvantaged” individuals.

Earlier in the day, Biden visited Las Gemelas, a restaurant in Northeast Washington owned in part by Mexican immigrants to highlight the grant program.

According to the White House, the restaurant had to cut its staffing to 7 from 55 during the pandemic, but was able to rehire employees and provide back pay to those who returned through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The National Restaurant Association is already concerned about the money running out.

“The question on the minds of many is what happens when applications outpace the available funds,” Tom Bene, the association’s chief executive officer, said in a Monday statement. “Restaurants are operating in an uncertain environment, with continued needs to restore customer confidence in their safety and to bring workers back into the economy.”

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