Delaware restaurants got $67.8M from American Rescue Plan. They sought much more
Delaware restaurants received a fraction of what they asked for in aid from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, according to federal data.
The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that Joe Biden signed into law in March, gave about $67.8 million to 286 Delaware food establishments, according to data from the Small Business Administration, the federal entity that disbursed the funds.
Only a minority of restaurants appeared to get a piece of the fund. The program received 763 grant applications from Delaware businesses before it stopped accepting applications in July.
The money requested from those restaurants totaled $186.6 million, according to the data.
Businesses across the country have called for the program to be revived, arguing that restaurants are still in need. The Delaware Restaurant Association supports reviving the program, pointing to how nearly two-thirds of applications were denied.
"It was an amazing program for restaurant relief," said Carrie Leishman, CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association. "But it was so unevenly distributed just because the money ran out so quickly."
Brew HaHa! Inc. took home more grant money than any other food establishment in Delaware, according to the data. The coffee chain, which is based in Wilmington and has eight locations, got nearly $3 million from the fund.
The money was used to cover payroll, give some staff raises and renovate locations, according to Brew HaHa! owner Alisa Morkides.
"We're grateful for it and my staff is grateful," Morkides said. "But I also feel for those who weren't able to receive it."
The second-highest grant earner was the Waterfall Catering Corp., a catering service based in Claymont that got about $2.1 million. The company head did not respond to multiple inquiries from Delaware Online/The News Journal.
The third-highest earner of the grant was Tortella Enterprises Inc., also known as Paradise Grill in Millsboro. The company got $1.7 million. It did not respond to multiple emails from Delaware Online/The News Journal.
The Small Business Administration published a recipient database online.
The program initially prioritized restaurants owned by minorities, women or veterans.
But weeks after launching, federal court rulings in Texas and Tennessee said the government cannot give out limited COVID-19 relief funds based on race and sex.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was the second major pandemic-era federal aid program for restaurants following the $669 billion Paycheck Protection Program in 2020.
USA Today contributed to this report.
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Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.