Relief

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Breakdown: How Senators Voted on RRF

Breakdown: How Senators Voted on RRF

by David Klemt

U.S. Capitol Building exterior, cloudy blue skies

After a year of waiting, we now know the fate of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund: a 52 to 43 vote that saw RRF replenishment fail on the Senate floor.

Last Thursday, the US Senate voted to debate the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 (S.4008). A filibuster put an end to this effort to replenish the RRF.

To be blunt, this is a disgrace. Eligible RRF applicants have been awaiting needed and deserved grants for a year. We were left out of Build Back Better, we were left out of the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill passed in March.

A contributing factor to why this is so disappointing is the passing of S.3811. Of particular note, 32 of the senators who voted against $40 billion for American restaurants and bars voted in favor of $40 billion for supplemental aid for Ukraine.

Now, I’m not saying that Ukraine doesn’t deserve our support. Likewise, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have voted to provide the war-torn country $40 billion in aid.

However, I am saying that I find it indefensible that dozens of our senators would send that kind of money overseas, then turn around and deny relief for American businesses.

In one moment we have senators saying America needs to come first. They then proceed to turn their backs on hard-working Americans.

Nay Votes

Unfortunately, 43 senators—all Republican—voted against the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022. Therefore, they voted against replenish the RRF.

However, that doesn’t mean all Republican senators voted against the bill. Indeed, four Republicans voted with their Democrat and Independent peers.

  • Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Blackburn (R-TN)
  • Boozman (R-AR)
  • Braun (R-IN)
  • Burr (R-NC)
  • Capito (R-WV)
  • Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Cotton (R-AR)
  • Cramer (R-ND)
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Cruz (R-TX)
  • Daines (R-MT)
  • Fischer (R-NE)
  • Graham (R-SC)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Hagerty (R-TN)
  • Hawley (R-MO)
  • Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
  • Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Johnson (R-WI)
  • Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Lankford (R-OK)
  • Lee (R-UT)
  • Lummis (R-WY)
  • McConnell (R-KY)
  • Moran (R-KS)
  • Paul (R-KY)
  • Portman (R-OH)
  • Risch (R-ID)
  • Romney (R-UT)
  • Rounds (R-SD)
  • Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sasse (R-NE)
  • Scott (R-FL)
  • Scott (R-SC)
  • Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Thune (R-SD)
  • Tillis (R-NC)
  • Toomey (R-PA)
  • Tuberville (R-AL)
  • Young (R-IN)

Yea Votes

It’s important to remember that the Small Business COVID Relief Act of 2022 was a bipartisan effort. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the bill, which included $40 billion for the RRF and $8 billion for other businesses.

Four Republican senators and two Independents voted in the affirmative with all Democrats.

  • Baldwin (D-WI)
  • Bennet (D-CO)
  • Blumenthal (D-CT)
  • Blunt (R-MO)
  • Booker (D-NJ)
  • Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Cardin (D-MD)
  • Carper (D-DE)
  • Casey (D-PA)
  • Cassidy (R-LA)
  • Collins (R-ME)
  • Coons (D-DE)
  • Cortez Masto (D-NV)
  • Duckworth (D-IL)
  • Durbin (D-IL)
  • Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Gillibrand (D-NY)
  • Hassan (D-NH)
  • Heinrich (D-NM)
  • Hickenlooper (D-CO)
  • Hirono (D-HI)
  • Kaine (D-VA)
  • Kelly (D-AZ)
  • King (I-ME)
  • Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Leahy (D-VT)
  • Lujan (D-NM)
  • Manchin (D-WV)
  • Markey (D-MA)
  • Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Merkley (D-OR)
  • Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Murphy (D-CT)
  • Murray (D-WA)
  • Ossoff (D-GA)
  • Padilla (D-CA)
  • Peters (D-MI)
  • Reed (D-RI)
  • Sanders (I-VT)
  • Schatz (D-HI)
  • Schumer (D-NY)
  • Shaheen (D-NH)
  • Sinema (D-AZ)
  • Smith (D-MN)
  • Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Tester (D-MT)
  • Warner (D-VA)
  • Warnock (D-GA)
  • Warren (D-MA)
  • Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Wicker (R-MS)
  • Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting

Three Democrat and two Republican senators didn’t vote on S.4008.

  • Brown (D-OH)
  • Ernst (R-IA)
  • Marshall (R-KS)
  • Rosen (D-NV)
  • Van Hollen (D-MD)

Yay Votes for Ukraine, Nay Votes for RRF

The following senators, all Republican, voted to send $40 billion in aid to Ukraine.

The same day, they voted against $40 billion to replenish the RRF, voting against American restaurants and bars.

  • Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Burr (R-NC)
  • Capito (R-WV)
  • Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Cotton (R-AR)
  • Cramer (R-ND)
  • Cruz (R-TX)
  • Daines (R-MT)
  • Fischer (R-NE)
  • Graham (R-SC)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
  • Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Johnson (R-WI)
  • Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Lankford (R-OK)
  • McConnell (R-KY)
  • Moran (R-KS)
  • Portman (R-OH)
  • Risch (R-ID)
  • Romney (R-UT)
  • Rounds (R-SD)
  • Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sasse (R-NE)
  • Scott (R-FL)
  • Scott (R-SC)
  • Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Thune (R-SD)
  • Tillis (R-NC)
  • Toomey (R-PA)
  • Young (R-IN)

Image: PartTime Portraits on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

US Senate Fails to Replenish the RRF

US Senate Fails to Replenish the RRF

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building exterior and blue sky

After conflicting reports and speculation, the US Senate has finally voted this week on replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Last week, multiple sources reported that the Senate would hold their RRF vote this week. Just days ago, several outlets sounded the alarm, reporting that the vote would be pushed to next week. The reason, these sources provided, was the Senate’s scramble to repackage and hold another vote on aid for Ukraine.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the bill that would provide $40 billion in defense and humanitarian aid. Unsurprisingly, it was also Sen. Paul who objected to $43 billion in emergency funding last August, killing that RRF replenishment effort.

Today, on the Senate floor, Sen. Paul repeatedly derided the replenishment of the RRF as a “bailout.” Additionally, he asked, “Where’s the emergency?”

So, one can infer that the impending closure of an estimated 50 percent of RRF applicants—88,500—isn’t an emergency to the Kentucky senator. Simple math shows that if each of those applicants has just ten employees, that’s a loss of 885,000 jobs.

Rightfully so, people throughout the industry have been more than a little concerned that the bill would receive at least 60 “yea” votes today.

At issue is where the funds would come from. While Democrats view replenishing the RRF as emergency funding, Republicans prefer to reallocate existing funds.

Senate Fails to Replenish RRF

Today’s vote was a long time coming. In fact, it’s just days shy of one year since the RRF application portal closed.

Now, after a 223 to 203 vote in the House to replenish RRF, our senators have failed us. The resulting vote was 52 to 43, falling short of the 60 “yeas” necessary

I’m not despondent over this news. Honestly, I think I’ve made it rather clear that our politicians failing us wouldn’t at all surprise me. Yet I still find myself incredibly disappointed.

Disappointed in how the RRF was handled, disappointed in the grant approval process, disappointed in how emergency funding was blocked, and disappointed in how we were left out of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better and March omnibus bills.

And gravely disillusioned now that I’ve finally learned how little many of our senators care about us. Hospitality is an industry that employed nearly 17 million people in 2019. In terms of revenue, we’re projected by the National Restaurant Association to generate almost $900 billion in sales.

Not enough, it’s clear, for a majority of senators to vote to replenish the RRF.

However, I’m mostly dismayed for the owners and operators who have waited a year just to have this lifeline yanked from their fingertips. Today’s failure in the Senate puts millions of jobs at risk.

Underfunded from the Start

For those who found themselves in RRF limbo, the wait for this vote has been agonizing.

The RRF application portal opened May 3, 2021. Initially, the process looked promising. For the first 21 days, the Small Business Administration announced, priority would be granted to small businesses with a minimum of 51 percent ownership by women, veterans or socially disadvantaged people.

However, the SBA closed the portal immediately after processing only about 101,000 priority applications, or one-third of applicants. So, ever since May 24 of last year, “non-priority” applicants have been left wondering if they’d ever receive an RRF grant.

In addition to the premature closure of the application process, the RRF was woefully underfunded. Clearly, that point was driven home when $75 billion in applications were submitted to a fund with just $28.6 billion.

So, the quick closure and unrealistic funding meant that out of the over 362,000 initial applicants, around 177,000 have been watching and waiting.

A Year-long Wait

Shortly after the RRF portal was closed, a number of Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the SBA. Per the contents of the letter, non-priority applicants wouldn’t receive grants or have the opportunity to apply for grants.

Indeed, those applicants stuck in RRF limbo have been waiting for relief for just days shy of a year. And that’s only counting the days since the portal closed. Operators across the industry, not just those who applied for RRF grants, have been scratching and clawing to stave off insolvency and closures.

Advocates such as the Independent Restaurant Coalition have been sounding the alarm. RRF applicants could be just days away from bankruptcy and needed the government to act. To be brutally honest, relief may still come too late for many applicants.

Congress has certainly had the time to vote on and replenish the RRF. In June 2021, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-PA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the RRF Replenishment Act bill. In July, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) introduced an alternative bill, the ENTREE Act.

Of course, as we well know, an attempt in August to replenish the RRF with $43 billion in emergency funding was blocked by Sen. Paul. In November, Build Back Better was passed. Obviously, the RRF and our industry were left out the $1.7 trillion dollar bill. Likewise, we weren’t included in March’s $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Left Out In the Cold

So, of $3.2 trillion dollars in massive bills passed, zero were earmarked for us.

Today, our senators voted 86 to 11 for $40 billion in aid for Ukraine. However, they voted 52 to 43 to provide $40 billion in aid to American restaurants and bars.

Last month, eleven months after the portal closed, the House voted to replenish the RRF. That left the final push to the Senate.

And today, at least 43 senators made their low opinion of us known.

Image: Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Congress is Abandoning Us

Congress is Abandoning Us

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building at night, black and white

The Biden Administration and Congress have elected to turn their backs on tens of thousands of restaurants and bars.

No funds will be included in the proposed spending bill to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Congress is expected to vote on the massive spending bill this Friday. As has been reported, the RRF Replenishment Act will not be part of this bill.

“Today’s news that Congress is walking away from the RRF is a gut punch to the 177,000 restaurants who now have some incredibly difficult decisions ahead of them,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association.

This abandoning of the industry by Congress doesn’t just affect 177,000 venues.

Generally speaking, the average restaurant in America has less than 50 employees. Cut that number in half to be conservative and 177,000 restaurants employ nearly 4.5 million people.

Essentially, Congress and the current administration have said that well over four million lives simply do. not. matter.

This is to say nothing of the other jobs in other industries lost when restaurants, bars, and other hospitality industry businesses struggle or close.

Currently, Democrats are laying this failure at the feet of GOP leadership. It’s convenient, I suppose, to claim one party objected to the inclusion of the RRF in this omnibus bill.

However, I view this as a failure of every member of Congress. We were promised a vote on the RRF Replenishment Act. That “promise” has proven to be as empty as the supposed support our politicians have been expressing for the industry.

To say I’m unhappy is painfully inadequate.

Should We Be Surprised?

The $1.7 trillion Build Back Better Act was passed by the House last November. Of course, the bill didn’t include the RRF Replenishment Act, either.

It’s clear now that that failure was a harbinger of this latest one. Therefore, it’s clear we’re on our own and must respond at the polls.

Congress has had ten months to replenish the RRF. The closest they came was a unanimous consent motion shot down last August by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Politicians are already backpedaling, attempting to mitigate fallout, and once again offering meaningless words. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) reportedly said the following in response to this news:

“I’ve talked to Senator Schumer already. If we can bring it to the floor as a separate bill, we might do that. We’re not giving up.”

Please. They gave up on us and our industry months ago. As one Twitter user put it succinctly, “Will not happen if it doesn’t go into the omnibus.”

Personally, I don’t see how I can possibly vote for any of Nevada’s current members of Congress. They’ll likely never read this, and if they do they likely won’t care, but these are the people who lost my votes yesterday:

  • Rep. Mark Amodei (R)
  • Rep. Steven Horsford (D)
  • Rep. Susie Lee (D)
  • Rep. Dina Titus (D)
  • Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D)
  • Sen. Jacky Rosen (D)

We Go it Alone

As usual, we’re left to look out for ourselves and each other. The problem with constant praise for being resilient, resourceful, and scrappy is that people assume this industry never needs help. Worse, many believe we don’t deserve the help other industries receive.

Well, I think I speak for a lot of the industry when I say we’re tired of being resilient. In fact, I believe Eileen Wayner, CEO of Tales of the Cocktail, said that to me last year before we recorded an episode of Bar Hacks.

Yes, we’re resilient. We’re tough, scrappy, resourceful, adaptable… All of that is true. It’s also true that this industry has endured—and continues to endure and feel the ramifications of—an unprecedented two years. We’re tired and we need help.

It’s clear that help, at best, “might” come. After ten months of waiting, I see that “might” translates from political speak to plain English as, “You’re all on your own.”

Image: MIKE STOLL on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

State of the RRF: By the Numbers

State of the RRF: By the Numbers

by David Klemt

Wad of dollar bills with red rubber band

The “tale of the tape” of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund tells a clear story: the RRF needs an injection of tens of billions of dollars.

Clearly, $28.6 was nowhere near enough to award every eligible restaurant and bar with a grant.

In fact, the RRF would need at least another $50 billion to serve all eligible applicants.

The Numbers

First, the Small Business Administration is to be commended for setting up the RRF portal, making the application process clear, and handling applications well.

However, there’s one glaring issue with the RRF and the review and awards process. I’ll get to that in the next section.

Per the National Restaurant Association, more than 362,000 applications were submitted via the RRF portal.

In total, the applications add up to $75 billion in grant requests. Again, the RRF was funded by the government with $28.6 billion. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that the fund was severely underfunded.

Controversy

Last week, a number of Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the SBA. The gist of their message was that the RRF’s closure was premature. Therefore, the group concluded, non-priority applicants wouldn’t receive grants or even have the opportunity to apply for grants.

In the letter, which can be reviewed here, the authors also took shots at Democrats, the Biden Administration, and undocumented immigrants.

Setting politics aside, the announcement of the RRF’s portal closure was inarguably premature. The application process was first opened on Monday, May 3. For the first 21 days, the SBA announced that while all eligible entities could apply, only priority applicants would be processed and awarded grants.

However, the RRF portal closed to applications on Monday, May 24…21 days after it first opened. The members of Congress who penned the letter to the SBA have a point: the SBA closed the RRF portal after only operating within the priority window.

Now What?

There’s no other way to put this: The RRF needs more funding.

Essentially, it needs twice the funding it had when it was first seeded. There’s zero guarantee that Congress will address this matter, but at least a handful of lawmakers are aware of the dire situation.

Two weeks ago, the NRA launched a petition urging the government to replenish the RRF. Of course, the RRF also needs to be reopened for applications, and the application process needs to be open to all eligible applicants.

There’s no promise the petition will achieve the desired result but we must do something. Click here to sign the petition and tell Congress the RRF needs to be replenished and reopened.

Image: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canadian Hospitality Needs Real Help

Canadian Hospitality Needs Real Help

by David Klemt

Man in empty restaurant and bar in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Restaurants, bars and other foodservice establishments throughout Canada need specific relief to survive, replace lost jobs, and return to profitability.

The seemingly endless and severe provincial restrictions is putting far too much strain on a struggling industry.

Yes, there are some federal provisions in place. No, they’re not enough.

Relief Efforts

Currently, the federal budget promises extensions for wage and rent subsidies. Those subsidies would extend to September 25, 2021.

However, most Canadians, per a Restaurants Canada survey, agree that the industry needs more help.

If additional industry-specific relief faces significant delays or doesn’t come at all, operators, employees, and their families will suffer.

No wonder, then, that 90 percent of Canadians (according to the Restaurants Canada survey) feel restaurants and bars need federal support to remain in business and continue paying staff.

Support Proposals

Of the approximately 98,000 foodservice establishments throughout Canada, about 10,000 are out of business. As of last month, 319,000 lost foodservice jobs had yet to be filled.

No other industry in Canada is facing such startling numbers. Add to that the fact that the industry contributes to four percent of Canada’s GDP, restaurants are the first employers for most Canadians, women comprise nearly 60 percent of the restaurant workforce, and visible minorities comprise over 30 percent of ownership and labor, and the situation grows even starker.

Clearly, industry-specific relief is necessary.

Restaurants Canada is campaigning for the following measures:

  • Extend the wage and rent subsidies through April 2022.
  • Develop subsidy requirements that more closely match the dire reality the industry continues to face.
  • Implement an employee retention and retraining credit to defray Covid-19 protocol costs.
  • Partial forgiveness for all government-backed loans.
  • Removal of merchant fees from the tax portion of restaurant bills.
  • Restore the meals and expenses to 100 percent on a temporary basis.
  • Develop and implement a culinary tourism incentive for the 2020 and 2021 tax years, using New Brunswick as a model.
  • Implement a rebate program that provides government reimbursement of $15 per person, per meal.
  • Freeze the Excise Act, including Excise Act 2021.

Act Now

It took more than a year but the industry and its supporters in America helped bring about meaningful change for restaurants, bars, and other hospitality venues.

The same can be done in Canada, and time is of the essence.

For example, the Restaurant Revival Working Group is a good start for effecting change. The group consists of government and industry representatives.

Click here to review the list of Restaurant Revival Working Group members, particularly those in government, so you can contact them.

Image: Tyler Farmer on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

RRF Applications Open Monday

RRF Applications Open Monday

by David Klemt

Modern neon sign hanging in window

In long overdue but very welcome news, the Small Business Administration’s RRF portal opens to accept applications on Monday.

Operators and business owners will be able to register this Friday, April 30.

We definitely recommend doing so to make the application process simpler and (hopefully) less frustrating on Monday, May 3.

What You Need to Know

Mainly, the following: The SBA’s RRF portal link is https://restaurants.sba.gov. It would probably be a good idea to go ahead and bookmark that site now.

Alternately, operators using an SBA POS partner to apply. Partner systems include Clover, NCR, Square, and Toast.

Per the SBA, operators will be able to register via the website beginning at 9:00 AM EST on Friday. Again, it would be wise to plan on doing exactly that.

Anything that can be done to speed up the application process opening Monday should be done.

According to the SBA website, certain eligible entities will be given priority. For the first 21 days the application process is open, priority will be granted to small businesses with a minimum of 51 percent ownership by women, veterans or socially disadvantaged people.

However, all eligible owners and operators should register on Friday and apply on Monday. Doing should, in theory, help applicants secure their grants in a more timely manner.

RRF Preparation

The SBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund portal opens at noon ET on Monday. It’s best to prepare as much as possible as it’s likely applicants may find themselves in a queue depending upon traffic.

Operators can calculate their grant amounts with the following equations for applicants:

  • in operation prior to or on January 1, 2019: 2019 gross receipts minus 2020 gross receipts minus PPP loan amounts.
  • that began operations partially through 2019: (Average 2019 monthly gross receipts x 12) minus 2020 gross receipts minus PPP loan amounts.
  • who began operations on or between January 1, 2020 and March 10, 2021: Amount spent on eligible expenses between February 15, 2020 and March 11, 2021 minus 2020 gross receipts minus 2021 gross receipts (through March 11, 2021) minus PPP loan amounts
  • not yet opened but have incurred eligible expenses: Amount spent on eligible expenses between February 15, 2020 and March 11, 2021 minus 2020 gross receipts minus 2021 gross receipts (through March 11, 2021) minus PPP loan amounts

Note: Entities who began operations partially through 2019 may elect, at their own discretion, to use either calculation two, three or four above.

For further guidance and to prepare as much as possible, please click here for the SBA’s RRF guide, and click here to review the sample application.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition also has a handy checklist posted to Instagram:

Good luck!

Image: Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Live Event Venues Can Apply for Relief

Live Event Venues Can Apply for Relief

by David Klemt

Bokeh photograph of condenser microphone

Live event venue and movie theater operators can once again apply for relief grants via a Small Business Administration portal today.

This is big and welcome news for businesses that are among the hardest-hit due to the pandemic. However, the portal has yet to open at the time of publication.

It remains to be seen if the issues plaguing the SBA’s portal are no more. It also casts some doubt on a glitch-free process for Restaurant Revitalization Fund applicants.

SVO Grant Portal Problems

Today’s reopening of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant portal is nearly three weeks in the making. A message on the homepage states that the portal has undergone “rigorous testing” to prevent further issues.

On April 8, the day the website opened for applications, it was shut down due to a “technical glitch.” Applicants are now 18 days behind in terms of applying for and receiving relief.

Unfortunately, the delay is more bad news for live event and movie theater operators. The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act became law on December 27, 2020. That means more than 120 days will have passed just to open the application process today.

SVO Grant Details

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program contains more than $16 billion. There is a $10-million-dollar cap on single grants.

Importantly, eligible entities in operation on January 1, 2019, will receive grants equal to 45 percent of their 2019 gross earned revenue or $10 million. For eligible entities that began operation after January 1, 2019, grant amounts will be for the average monthly gross earned revenue for each full month of operation during 2019 multiplied by six or $10 million.

Eligible applicants include:

  • Live venue operators or promoters
  • Theatrical producers
  • Live performing arts organization operators
  • Museum operators
  • Motion picture theater operators, including owners
  • Talent representatives

Notable requirements include the following:

  • An eligible entity must have been in operation as of February 29, 2020; and
  • entities that received PPP loans on or after December 27, 2020, will have the SVO grant reduced by the PPP loan amount.

Be Ready

If you’re an operator applying for an SVO grant, be sure you’re ready to apply today.

There is a checklist for applicants on the SBA website. Click here to access and review it. There are several forms operators will need to fill out and include in their application, such as SBA Form 1623 and SBA Form 1711.

Necessary financial documents include 2019 tax returns for businesses in operation in 2019, 2020 tax returns for businesses that have filed 2020 taxes, and 2018 tax returns for non-profit applicants that have yet to end their 2020 fiscal year. Businesses that declared Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy must include pertinent documents.

Additionally, there are also business-specific documents required for live venue operators or promoters; theatrical producers; live performing arts organization operators; movie theater operators; and museum operators.

Image: israel palacio on Unsplash 

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

SBA Releases RRF Guide and Forms

SBA Releases RRF Guide and Forms

by David Klemt

"This is the sign you've been looking for" white neon sign on brick wall

Operators in the United States are nearing the opening of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund application process.

The Small Business Administration’s RRF program guide and sample application are now available.

Let’s jump in!

RRF at a Glance

In simple terms, the RRF is the most targeted relief the industry in America has received since the pandemic took hold.

Eligible entities apply for a tax-free grant equal to the amount of a their pandemic-related revenue losses.

To calculate a grant amount, an applicant subtracts 2020 gross receipts from 2019 gross receipts. Applicants must deduct first-draw PPP and second-draw PPP loans, even if they’re paid back or forgiven. Any economic disaster loans—Economic Injury Disaster Loans, for example—are not RRF deductions.

Per the SBA, operators do not need to register for a System for Award Management (SAM.gov) account, meaning they no longer need to acquire a DUNS number.

RRF Eligibility

As the SBA’s RRF program guide states, eligible businesses A) must not be closed permanently, and B) are places where customers gather primarily to consume food or drink. Such entities include:

  • restaurants;
  • bars;
  • saloons;
  • lounges;
  • taverns;
  • food trucks, carts and stands;
  • snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars;
  • licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase product; and
  • other similar places of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink.

However, that’s in no way the entire list of eligible businesses. Bakeries, breweries, microbreweries, brewpubs, taprooms, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms are eligible if they can provide documentation (which must accompany their application) that:

  • on-site sales to the public comprised at least 33% of gross receipts in 2019; or
  • original business model should have contemplated at least 33% of gross receipts in on-site sales to the public if they’ve yet to open or opened in 2020.

Interestingly, it’s possible for an inn to be eligible for the RRF. Such a business is subject to the same eligibility requirements as bakeries, breweries, etc.

Eligible Expenses

Businesses that receive an RRF grant may use the funds for eligible expenses during their covered period. That timeframe is the “period beginning on February 15, 2020 and ending on March 11, 2023.” Should the business close permanently, that period will end when the business permanently closes or on March 11, 2023, whichever occurs sooner.”

A grant recipient must return any funds to the Treasury if they’re unable to use for eligible expenses by the end of the covered period.

So, which expenses are eligible per the SBA for the RRF program? Below is a short list of eligible expenses:

  • Payroll costs (sick leave, costs for group health care, life, disability, vision, or dental benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and group health care, life, disability, vision, or dental insurance premiums).
  • Payments on any business mortgage obligation, both principal and interest (Note: Excludes any prepayment of principal on a mortgage obligation).
  • Business rent payments, including rent under a lease agreement (Note: Excludes any prepayment of rent).
  • Construction of outdoor seating.
  • Business supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials).

For the full list of eligible expenses and many more RRF details, please click here to download and view the entire SBA RRF program guide. To view the sample application and prepare for the process to begin, click here.

Disclaimer

This content is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. This article does not constitute professional and/or financial advice, nor does any information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law. This information is of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of a specific individual or entity. The reader of this information alone assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information before making any decisions based on such information.

Image: Austin Chan on Unsplash 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

PPP 2nd Draw vs ERTC vs RRF: What to Know

PPP 2nd Draw vs ERTC vs RRF: What to Know

by David Klemt

The face on a bank note

Some regions, states and people are behaving like the pandemic is over but our industry is still in crisis.

There is good news in the form of a few resources business owners can utilize.

Let’s take a look at the the Employee Retention Tax Credit, second Paycheck Protection Program draw, and Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Paycheck Protection Program

Today is your last day to apply for the second PPP draw. That’s why we’re starting here and why, if you haven’t yet, you need to apply now.

According to the Small Business Administration, a borrower is (generally speaking) eligible if they:

  • previously received a first-draw PPP loan and will use (or has used) the full amount only for authorized uses;
  • have no more than 300 employees; and
  • are able to demonstrate at least a 25-percent reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

Applicants seeking a second draw need to know the following:

  • No extension date has been announced for the second PPP draw.
  • Each single borrower is limited to a $2 million loan.
  • Using the first draw as a model, the average loan size may be around $128,000.
  • The terms of second-draw PPP loans are the same regardless of who is borrowing and who is lending.

Use SBA Lender Match to find a lender today.

Employee Retention Tax Credit

When it comes to relief for this industry, much of the focus is on the PPP and RRF.

However, the ERTC can be a valuable resource for eligible restaurants.

First, what’s the ERTC? It’s a payroll tax credit—fully refundable—meant to persuade employers to keep and compensate their workers when they’re not fully operational.

Second, who’s eligible? To claim ERTC for a given calendar quarter, restaurant operators must show:

  • full or partial suspension as a result of orders from a governmental authority limiting commerce, travel or group meetings due to Covid-19; or
  • they experienced a significant decline in gross receipts during the calendar quarter when compared to 2019.

The above criteria apply to the quarter an operator is applying for the ERTC.

To better understand the ERTC, we’re including an example from the National Restaurant Association:

Henry’s Hotcakes (HH) received a $120,000 PPP loan in April 2020. These funds were fully spent on its 10 employees by September 20, 2020. Previously, HH would not have qualified for ERTC. However, HH can now reach back to its wages for the fourth quarter of 2020 (OCTDEC) and obtain up to $5,000 per eligible employee (50% credit of up to $10,000 in eligible wages) in ERTC.

Click here to read more about the ERTC on the IRS website.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is the most recent relief resource to come to fruition, so it stands to reason that it’s top of mind for most operators.

According to recent reporting, the SBA—the agency responsible for overseeing the RRF—is aiming for early April to launch the fund.

Here’s what restaurant and bar operators need to know now:

  • A grant is equal to the amount of a restaurant’s pandemic-related revenue losses.
  • Grants are tax-free.
  • To calculate a grant amount, subtract 2020 gross receipts from 2019 gross receipts. Operations must deduct first-draw PPP and second-draw PPP loans, even if they’re paid back or forgiven.
  • Any economic disaster loans—Economic Injury Disaster Loans, for example—are not RRF deductions.
  • Per the SBA, operators do not need to register for a System for Award Management (SAM.gov) account, meaning they no longer need to acquire a DUNS number.

The following are eligible RRF expenses:

  • broad operational expenses;
  • payroll, rent, and mortgage interest;
  • “normal” food and beverage inventory;
  • various supply purchases (PPE, for example);
  • property damage costs related to public disturbances in 2020;
  • debt obligations to suppliers before covered period;
  • interest payments on any other debt obligations incurred prior to Feb 15, 2020; and
  • refinancing EIDL.

Bear in mind that when it comes to the PPP, ERTC and RRF, changes in requirements and other processes are subject to change. Operators must stay up to date on these and other programs.

Disclaimer

This content is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. This article does not constitute professional and/or financial advice, nor does any information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law. This information is of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of a specific individual or entity. The reader of this information alone assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information before making any decisions based on such information.

Image: Freddie Collins on Unsplash

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

On the Menu for 2021: The RESTAURANTS Act

On the Menu for 2021: The RESTAURANTS Act

by David Klemt

Much like restaurants themselves, the RESTAURANTS Act has faced multiple starts and stops.

The bill received huge bipartisan support in 2020, landing dozens upon dozens of co-sponsors.

However, that widespread support didn’t materialize into any actual progress—the bill was never signed into law. That must change now.

A Long Road

It’s February 2021. The House and Senate must work together to provide the targeted relief of the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act.

The RESTAURANTS Act was first introduced to the House of Representatives on June 15, 2020. The bill was eventually included in the revised Heroes Act, which was passed by the House on October 1, 2020 on a vote of 214 to 207.

Unfortunately, that bill was “dead on arrival” and didn’t receive a vote on the Senate floor. A $900 billion stimulus package was negotiated in December of 2020 but the RESTAURANTS Act wasn’t included in it.

It has been more than long enough—it’s beyond time for action.

Where are We Now?

Throughout all of this, from inception to current status, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) has never faltered in their campaign to ensure this industry receives the targeted relief it so desperately needs.

It’s wise given how the number of times we’ve been let down by our elected officials to be guarded and cautiously optimistic about the RESTAURANTS Act finally being signed into law this month.

On February 5, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) formally (re)introduced the RESTAURANTS Act to the 117th Congress.

What’s in the Bill?

In its current form, the RESTAURANTS Act:

  • establishes a $120 billion relief fund for foodservice and drinking establishments;
  • makes groups that operate up to 20 units eligible for relief from that fund;
  • provides operators access to grants of up to $10 million for eligible expenses; and
  • makes the grants retroactive to February 15, 2020 and ends them eight months after the legislation is signed into law.

New provisions in the February 2021 RESTAURANTS Act include:

  • updates to the award calculation based on annual loss from calendar year 2020 instead of quarterly;
  • grant eligibility for new restaurants that opened after January 1, 2020;
  • paid sick leave as an eligible expense for employees, with a bonus amount to cover the cost of voluntarily providing ten days of sick leave to employees;
  • providing the Department of the Treasury the discretion to help reduce waste, fraud, and abuse;
  • imposing reporting obligations on the Department of the Treasury to share who gets loans and demographic information about recipients; and
  • ensuring that restaurants can use both the Employee Retention Tax Credit and the RESTAURANTS Act grant program, provided they are not used for the same expenses.

What’s Next?

We must all act to give the RESTAURANTS Act the best chance of becoming law. We have been patient for long enough.

We must let our representatives know we expect them to pledge their support for this bill formally.

The IRC provides several methods for ensuring our representatives understand they need to co-sponsor and pass the RESTAURANTS Act:

  1. Email your representatives and ask them for their co-sponsorship.
  2. Call your representatives directly and tell them why restaurants and bars need the RESTAURANTS Act to be voted on, passed, and signed into law. This is the number to dial: (202) 224-3121. The IRC has provided talking points here.
  3. Share the graphic below on your social channels and encourage your followers to also contact their representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the RESTAURANTS Act. Use the following caption when posting: It’s official: the RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 is on the menu in both chambers of Congress. Call your representatives today and tell them that independent restaurants, bars, and workers can’t wait any longer for direct relief: 202-224-3121 #SaveRestaurants

All of that will take less than 20 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to help finally get this industry the support and relief it needs.

The RESTAURANTS Act is needed to prevent more permanent restaurant and bar closures, and to revitalize the industry. The road to recovery is a long one and getting this bill signed into law is a major step forward.

Please email and call your representatives. Please share the post and caption above on your social media. Please help save the restaurants, bars, and millions of people they employ.

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