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Restaurants back in ‘growth mindset’ thanks to federal grant

Updated April 1, 2021 - 11:52 am

Las Vegas restaurateur John Anthony said things are looking up for his business, thanks to a new federal grant for restaurants and bars.

“Prepandemic we were about to open three new restaurants,” said Anthony, managing partner of Sparrow+Wolf. “We obviously were able to circle the wagons very quickly. We were able to back out of any conversations we were having with landlords and just kind of went dormant.”

Now, he said, “we’re starting those conversations again because this (grant) is there. This is going to allow us to get back into a growth mindset.”

Anthony was one of several local restaurant representatives who spoke at a news conference Wednesday to discuss the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion program under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act signed into law March 11.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus hosted the conference outside of Esther’s Kitchen in downtown Las Vegas to showcase how the fund will benefit Southern Nevada restaurants. It’s another lifeline for one of the state’s hardest-hit groups following state-mandated shutdowns and capacity restrictions, efforts meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“The restaurant business has really been negatively impacted by our inability to get out,” Titus said. “We lost over 100,000 restaurants in this country over the last year — that’s about 2.5 million employees — some of those will come back and some of them may not. So, we want to do all we can to help them because not only are they a fun place to go but they add to the diversity and the culture of our community.”

Esther’s Kitchen owner and chef James Trees said that while the restaurant has been able to create workarounds to stay afloat, added funding options will not just help Esther’s Kitchen but the entire restaurant supply chain.

“We have the ability to get back to our suppliers, to get back to using our farmers, and that’s going to help local businesses all around the Valley so we’re really excited about that,” Trees said.

Helping hand

The restaurant fund outlines eligible business as “restaurant, food stand, food truck, food cart, caterer, saloon, inn, tavern, bar, lounge, brewpub, tasting room, taproom, licensed facility or premise of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products.”

Eligible businesses can receive a tax-free federal grant equal to the amount of its pandemic-related revenue loss, calculated by subtracting 2020 gross receipts from those in 2019. The grant amount cannot exceed $10 million and is limited to $5 million per location. Owners with more than 20 locations as of March 13, 2020, are ineligible as are publicly traded companies.

Applicants can use the funds to cover business-related costs such as payroll, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies, covered supplier costs and operational expenses.

The Small Business Administration is responsible for administering the grant.

Nevada SBA Director Joseph Amato, who spoke at the news conference, said he expects businesses to be able to start applying in May, while noting the state SBA is still waiting for federal guidance.

“With the Restaurant Rescue program it’s really coming down to us going over the guidance and how we’re going to distribute it fairly, using the proper priorities and making sure that all businesses that need the most help will get the most help, especially in the underserved communities,” he said.

Amato said that, including other SBA-administered federal funding programs such as Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program, the state has received more than $6 billion in support and aid.

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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