MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Restaurants hit hard by the pandemic can apply for their share of more than $28 billion in grant money.
Salad Expressions off Union Avenue in the medical district has been serving up loaded salads for just about two months, but this wasn’t the original location.
It was actually supposed to be just off 2nd Street.
“Signed a lease March of 2020 and two weeks later the pandemic hit,” said owner Lemichael Wilson.
Restaurants were forced to close to help slow the spread of the virus.
It caused serious financial strain for many including Wilson.
Despite applying for countless grants and loans, Wilson never got a dime.
“After getting so many rejection letters of just being told you don’t qualify, it just got to the point where it seemed to be nebulous to even exhaust the efforts of trying to get those funds,” said Wilson.
Wilson was forced to close his original location.
Tuesday the Small Business Administration announced they would start taking applications for the Restaurant Revitalization fund next week.
$28.6 billion with $5 billion set aside for the smallest restaurants.
The grant will give establishments up to $10 million for pandemic-related revenue loss.
Recipients will not have to repay that money as long as it’s spent by March 11, 2023.
The National Restaurant Association applauds the SBA’s efforts but says that is not enough money.
Analysis by the National Restaurant Association shows that 13 months into the pandemic restaurant and food service sales were down $280 billion.
The executive vice president of public affairs Sean Kennedy said in part,
“We believe it is very likely the 28.6 billion dollar fund will be gone in a matter of weeks-possibly only a few. We expect day one numbers will be through the roof.”
Wilson is worried about that money not making it to Black businesses.
According to Forbes, only 2% of Black-owned businesses received loans as part of the CARES Act.
The SBA says the first 21 days of the new application process will be reserved for women, veteran and minority-owned businesses.
The application process doesn’t officially open until May 3, but applicants can get a head start.
Prospective applicants can register on the Restaurant Revitalization website starting Friday at 8 a.m. CST.