March 15, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King is applauding the American Rescue Plan’s inclusion of a $28.6 billion fund specifically designed to support restaurants struggling due to the pandemic. The historic COVID relief bill includes a vital provision that mirrors the fund created in the King-backed RESTAURANTS Act. Grants from this fund will allow independent restaurants and small franchisees across Maine and the nation to address the long-term challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The Small Business Administration will begin accepting applications for the program in the coming weeks.
“In communities across Maine, restaurants drive important economic opportunity, create jobs, and contribute to the local flavor of our state,” said Senator King. “These institutions are central to Maine life – and the American Rescue Plan is taking long-overdue steps to protect these businesses from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. This legislation takes into account the massive blow that’s been inflicted on restaurants over the last year, and provides funds to address the costs of rent, utilities, payroll, and more. I urge affected Maine restaurants to apply for this Fund once the Small Business Administration begins accepting applications.”
“The restaurant industry’s business environment is far from normal, and overall losses continue to mount. Owners are facing a continued dilemma in balancing the health and safety of their employees and customers with unimaginable financial losses,” said Susan Stephenson, owner of Pepino’s Mexican Restaurant and Pepino’s Taco Stand in Bangor. “Senator King’s leadership and support of the hospitality industry is a testament to his independent and entrepreneurial Maine spirit. He exemplifies what it means to listen to his constituents. We in Maine feel heard, represented, and respected.”
The American Rescue Plan creates a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund to provide relief to food service or drinking establishments that are part of a group of up to 20 facilities. Owners could apply for grants of up to $10 million to cover eligible expenses retroactively to February 15, 2020, and ending eight months after the legislation is signed into law. Grants could be used to support payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, building maintenance and construction of outdoor facilities, supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, operational expenses, paid sick leave, debt obligations to suppliers, and any other essential expenses.
Restaurants have been uniquely affected by COVID-19. Restaurants finished 2020 with sales losses of more than $240 billion and 2.5 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels. More than 1 in 6 restaurants are closed permanently or long-term, and open restaurants are grappling with decreased revenues because of reduced capacity and social distancing requirements.