Right. It’s hard to think of any industry — and we don’t know of any industry that can prove it was harder hit during the pandemic than the restaurant industry.
One million restaurants operate in this country in normal times. According to the National Restaurant Foundation, they say — association — they say 90,000 restaurants closed either permanently or long term during this pandemic.
And the issue is that many of these restaurants have thin margins in even the best of times, 5 percent to 6 percent that they’re making over what they charge. So, let’s look at this program that was designed to help them, but which is struggling to have enough funding for that.
Again, this program is called the Restaurant Relief Fund. It is intended to cover sales, the drop in sales between 2019 and 2020. Now, if a restaurant got Paycheck Protection money, that money will come out as well. They can do both, but they can’t double-dip.
Again, the funding for this program, $28.6 billion. And, so far, restaurants have applied for $76 billion. And the Small Business Administration was very clear today in saying they are going to have to make choices. They will not be able to give out this money to every restaurant that applies.
That could mean 100,000 restaurants that have applied for this restaurant will — for this money will not get it. How will they decide? Congress, when they passed this restaurant program, said that the Small Business Administration must give it out first to priority groups.
That includes the following, restaurants owned by women, by veterans, and by social or economically disadvantaged groups. That includes racial minorities and other minorities. So, what we have now is a situation of different business owners, different restaurant owners getting different things from this program.
Our producer Matt Loffman was able to reach out to some of them and talk to them about the experiences. And, first, I want you to hear from this woman. Her name is Roberta Montelione. She owns a catering business, Milan Catering in Southwest Florida. And she believes she will get some of this relief money.