Operating a restaurant is an exciting business venture. Whether an existing or new restaurant, owners must determine an operating budget based on projected sales, fixed and variable costs, and expected profits. Many restaurants fail, however, due to a lack of funding. There are many expenses to be considered, including food, inventory, marketing and advertising, maintenance and janitorial service, and payroll. In addition, there are costs for rent or lease, license fees, insurance and property taxes. Covering all these expenses can be a challenge, which makes our industry more difficult than most. Fortunately, there is help through funding. Funding is likely needed for restaurant sustainability. Restaurant grants are more favorable than loans because they are money that does not need to be repaid. Below are grants extended to restaurants and other small businesses in 2022 to offset pandemic setbacks and support economic viability.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
(RRF) – The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides funding to restaurants equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss. It can be as much as $10 million per business but no more than $5 million per location. If funds are used for eligible expenses no later than March 11, 2023, the money given does not need to be repaid. Restaurant Revitalization Fund application approvals extend through 6/30/2022.
Restaurant Resiliency Program
(RRP) – Restaurants that participate in this program partner with New York’s food banks to provide prepared meals to families in need. Participants must follow program rules and food safety standards. Applications opened on October 4, 2021, and are ongoing. For further information, contact: RestaurantResiliency.Information@agriculture.ny.gov
Further Grants for Restaurants
Restaurants Care – Offers $3,000 grants to independent restaurants in California. This grant is awarded to restaurants for kitchen equipment or retention bonuses, focusing on kitchens and crews. This grant also provides one year’s access to experts, discounts, and training. Applications open April 15-30, 2022.
Downtown Outdoor Dining Grant Program – Maximum award is $1500 to help businesses implement outdoor dining areas. It is available to the downtown Baton Rouge business community and includes 50% reimbursement for furniture, Sidewalk Café application, and a first year permit. This grant is open to all business owners operating an establishment located within the Downtown Development District boundaries. Contact email@example.com with questions.
Illinois Restaurant Employment and Stabilization Grant Program – On April 9, 2022, the Illinois General Assembly approved this grant program. The state will award a one-time grant in an amount of up to $50,000 to each eligible restaurant. Additionally, the applicant must have not received financial aid from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund Program; the Illinois Back to Business Grant Program or the Business Interruption Grant program; or any other local or state program providing more than $10,000 in grants or forgiven loans since April 1, 2020. Those wishing to submit an application should visit the Illinois Restaurant Association for the latest information on this program.
Merchant Maverick Opportunity Grants – This grant is offered to Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) American citizens who own a restaurant or other foodservice business. Ten Opportunity Grants of $10,000 each will be awarded to ten different AAPI-owned restaurants. Applications opened on January 3, 2022.
Other Small Business Grants
Although the deadline has passed for many available small business grants in 2022, there is hope for more funding soon. The Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 passed in the House on 04/07/2022, promises $13 billion to the most compromised small businesses and restaurants. Under this bill, the Hard Hit Industries Award Program offers amounts capped at $1 million to restaurants that suffered revenue losses of 40% or more due to the pandemic. Priority will be given to applicants that suffered 60% – 80% in revenue losses. Funds may be used for mortgage, rent, utility payments, and payroll expenses. Currently, this bill has been shelved in the Senate. Many are hopeful approval is impending. This bill extends to March 11, 2023.
Additionally, there are many grants on the federal and state level for small business assistance.
Grants.gov – the go-to source for restaurateurs and small business owners seeking federal grants. There, you can search through thousands of grants using powerful filters to find funds that are tailored to your situation.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Grants – This is a resource mainly for helping small businesses procure conventional sources of funds, such as investment capital or a loan. However, they do sponsor a few grant programs that target businesses involved with research or exporting – like the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (SSTR), and the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grants – If you have a restaurant or small business in the agriculture industry, you may be a perfect candidate for a small-business aid package or loan from the USDA. A number of their programs are focused on business in rural areas. Although, many are not as limited in their application. Some of the prominent grants include:
- Community Connect Grants
- Rural Business Development Grants
- Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants
- Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant
- Value-Added Producer Grants
While federal and local governments are wonderful places to start when looking for a small business grant, corporations and non-governmental organizations also step in to provide assistance.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest – yearly competition that has awarded more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes to over 100 small business since 2012. While the competition is fierce, it is worth the shot to make your elevator pitch – especially if your business positively impacts the community or environment and you can demonstrate the actual need for the cash infusion. The winner receives a $25,000 prize; 2nd place receives $15,000; the eight third place finishers receive $7,500.
The Amber Grants – funded by WomensNet, these grants are awarded on a monthly and yearly basis to women-owned businesses. Every month, their judges review the applications and data to select 5 finalists. One is the $10,000 Amber Grant winner, while the other four receive $1,000 each. In addition, there is a monthly Business Category Grant that awards $10,000 to the winner as well (Food & Beverage is one of the categories). At the end of the year, two $25,000 prizes are given out to one of that year’s Amber Grant winners and one of that year’s Business Category Grant winners. Voting factors heavily into the selection process so having a strong social network is key to gaining traction in these contests.
The Military Entrepreneur Challenge – hosted by The Second Service Foundation (formerly the StreetShares Foundation), this program provides financial support support to veterans who are looking to build a startup or grow their small business. They have educated over 10,000 veteran entrepreneurs. According to their website, their grant recipients experience an average increase of 277% in annual gross revenue. Individual winners have received up to $15,000. To be eligible, you will need to create a video pitch and submit an online application.