Restaurant Revitalization Fund 101: What You Need to Know, How to Apply

Restaurants across the United States will soon receive financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help recoup some of the revenue they lost due to COVID-19. 

In March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law, setting aside $28.6 billion for the SBA to disperse to restaurants and other hospitality businesses that suffered during the pandemic. Beginning May 3rdrestaurants and other eligible hospitality businesses can apply for funds from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, or RRF, until the money runs out. The RFF is much like  last year’s Paycheck Protection Program loans which restaurants used to pay for necessary expenses and to remain open during the height of the crisis.  

At 9 am EST on Friday, April 30, restaurants planning to use the SBA’s online registration portal can register to apply for funds through the RRF.  Eligible restaurants can receive grants up to $5 million per physical location, with a maximum aggregate grant amount of $10 million, to cover lost revenue and pay for other expenses resulting from the pandemic. The best news related to the grant program is that restaurants are not required to pay the money back if it is used for eligible expenses by March 11, 2023. 

Who Can Apply for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grant?

Although registration for businesses that plan to register through the SBA website begins on Friday,  April 30, businesses may not apply for the program until noon EST on May 3, 2021. According to the SBA, the program is open to restaurants, food stands, including carts and trucks, bars, and caterers. Locations such as bakeries, breweries and wineries, inns, and tasting rooms can also apply for the funds, but only if their onsite food and beverage sales total at least 33% of their gross receiptsIn addition, unlike the former PPP loans that were available in 2020, Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grants are only available to owners or operators who have 20 or fewer locations total.  

Businesses that would not qualify for an RRF grant include non-profits, locations that are permanently closed, state- and local government-owned businesses, publicly traded corporations (and those controlled by one), businesses that have already received Shutter Venues Operations Grants, businesses that have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or have already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but who have not yet received an approved reorganization plan. 

Although all qualifying restaurants are encouraged to submit their applications starting May 3, funds will be processed and dispersed in two groups. For the first three weeks of the program, priority groups will be processed and funded, including small businesses that are at least 51% women- or veteran-owned, or owned by socially or economically disadvantaged individuals. These applicants need to self-certify that they’re eligible during the application process to qualify for the priority group round of funds. 

After the first three weeks, applications will be processed and funded for all eligible and applicants in the order they were received. Once again, it is highly encouraged that everyone who qualifies should submit their application as soon as possible after the application period opens. The SBA also suggests that applicants use either Chrome or Edge browsers to apply.  Additionally, while applicants may use tablets or other mobile devices to access the SBA website, the SBA recommends that applicants use a computer as they will need to upload several documents as part of the application process. 

What Funds Are at Stake?

According to the SBA funding program guide, among the $28.6 billion set aside for the RRF, $5 billion will be made available for businesses having less than $500,000 in gross receipts in 2019. Another $4 billion has been set aside for those with 2019 gross receipts between $500,001 and $1.5 million, while $500 million is available for businesses with gross receipts of less than $50,000. 

Restaurants that apply must request at least $1,000 in grants (applications for less than $1,000 will be rejected), but no more than $5 million per location and no more than $10 million for the entire business. Applicants also need to keep in mind that any money they received for a PPP loan last year will be deducted from the grant money they will be eligible for with this program. For example, if a business were to request a $5,000 grant but received a $4,500 PPP loan last year, they would only be eligible for $500 under the RFF and their application will be rejected. 

Those awarded a tax-free federal grant will receive their funds from the SBA directly into their bank account for the exact amount they lost or incurred because of  the pandemic, minus any PPP loans they may have received already from the government. 

What Expenses Can Restaurants Use a Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grant For?

Much like previous programs, restaurants that receive Restaurant Revitalization Funds can use them for many purposes, including general business payroll and benefits costs, including paid sick leave, health care, vision, dental, and other insurance premiums. 

Other expenses covered include: 

  • Restaurant mortgages or rent (pre-payment not included) 
  • Paying off debt, principal and interest (no pre-payment allowed) 
  • Restaurant utilities and maintenance costs 
  • Construction of Outdoor Seating  
  • Supplies, including PPE and cleaning materials 
  • Restaurant food and beverages, including raw materials used to make products like beer or wine 
  • Covered supplier costs 
  • Day-to-day restaurant operating expenses, including things like marketing, accounting, equipment, licensing, and fees (Keep in mind, this only includes costs associated with regular activities) 

How to Apply for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grant 

To get started with an application, restaurants will first need to register at this link once registration opens on April 30. After registering, all applicants will have the opportunity to submit an RRF form through the link, starting May 3 at noon EST. Forms submitted before May 3 will not be accepted. 

For restaurants and other hospitality businesses planning to apply for a grant, they will need to submit several documents, including: 

  • IRS Form 4506-T 
  • Any of these documents showing gross receipts: 
    • IRS Form 1120 or 1120-S (business tax returns), or 2020 and 2021 POS reports for gross receipts on and between 1/1/20 and 3/11/21 
    • IRS Forms 1040 Schedule C or Schedule F 
    • IRS Form 1065, with K-1 form (for partnerships) 
    • Bank statements 
    • POS reports, including IRS Form 1099-K 
    • Financial statements, including Income or Profit/Loss statements 

Other businesses, including breweries, bakeries, wineries, and inns, will need to submit some additional information proving that food and beverage sales made up at least 33% percent of their gross receipts for 2019 or would have been above that threshold if they opened their doors in 2020. 

The SBA is encouraging businesses planning to apply for funding to have these documents ready as soon as the application form is available and the process is open 

Have questions or need help filling out the application? The SBA can assist through their helpline by calling 1-844-279-8898 or by contacting a local SBA Office. Additionally, the National Restaurant Association has created a helpful FAQ that answers many common questions related to the RRF grant.

Need More Assistance?

The SBA recently hosted a webinar to help people learn how to apply for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Watch the video below to learn more!