The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the closure of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) after awarding the program to more than 100,000 restaurants, bars, and other businesses that provide on-site food and drink.
Demand for the funds far outstripped the supply, with restaurants and other eligible businesses submitting more than 278,000 applications seeking more than $72.2 billion in funding, as of June 30, the SBA said in a news release issued July 2.
Most of those applications were submitted in the first few days after the RRF application window opened May 3. Less than 10 days after the RRF’s launch, the SBA reported that it had received requests for more than twice the $28.6 billion Congress provided for grants.
The program was to provide the vast majority of its funding to eligible businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The priority policy was challenged with lawsuits alleging that the policy discriminated against white men. Several judges ruled in favor of those claims, leading the SBA to stop processing applications from members of prioritized groups and to rescind some approvals already made. So while more than 60% of all applications were denied funding, thousands of restaurant owners had the SBA approve their applications only to be notified that they would not receive the funding.
The average size of grant awards was $283,000.
Under the RRF, food and beverage providers could apply for grants equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss, up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. The funds could be used for eligible expenses, such as payroll and rent.
The SBA said it would keep the RRF application platform open until July 14 to allow applicants to check their status, address payment corrections, or ask questions.