WILMINGTON, MA – Wilmington restaurants were among more than 2,500 in Massachusetts to receive nearly $ 1 billion from the Small Business Administration Restaurant Revitalization Fund passed by Congress last year as part of a comprehensive coronavirus relief package.
The $ 993 million donated to Massachusetts restaurants was the sixth highest of any state in the country. And the average payout of $ 338,000 to companies in Massachusetts was the highest in the country. But the 2,556 Massachusetts companies that received grants under the program were just 37.2 percent of the 6,867 that applied for the program, which SBA closes on Wednesday.
In Wilmington, scholarships have been awarded to:
- Island Concessions LLC – $ 307,813.03
- Panchos Inc. – $ 279,612.00
- Paula Cushing-Pote – $ 232,971.85
- EZ PIZZA INC (Greg’s Pizza Route 38) – $ 215,280.60
- Mahmed Ourdyl (Mona’s Kitchen) – $ 16,218.00
Hundreds of restaurants in Massachusetts, however, face an uncertain future after the U.S. Small Business Administration announced last month it would close the restaurant revitalization fund passed by Congress as part of the coronavirus relief package.
“To these restaurant owners, it feels like an insult on top of an injury,” Irene Li, owner of Mei Mei Boston and program manager of CommonWealth Kitchen’s Restaurant Resiliency Fund, told the Boston Globe, which first published the story. “It’s like, ‘This should be for us.'”
In an email to applicants last month, SBA said the program will be “deactivated” on July 14th. At this point it will no longer accept applications. Nationally, the program has funded 105,000 restaurants, but another 265,000 applicants are still waiting. A bill to replenish the fund was tabled in Congress but not promoted.
“There are thousands of operators in Massachusetts who dutifully filed for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund on the first day it opened. Without Congressional action to replenish the fund, restaurants across Massachusetts face an uncertain future, ”said Steve Clark of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. “Many are in the ironic position of seeing more guests but generating less income as they struggle with ever-rising food prices and a lack of manpower and staffing problems to fully reopen.”
Despite the restaurant industry lobbying for Congress to replenish the fund, lawmakers have been more focused on reaching a compromise on the Biden Government Infrastructure Improvement Act.
“It’s a particular blow to the operators who received a funding notice a few weeks ago only to receive a rejection notice last week,” said Clark. “We need Congress to comply with the RRF Replenishment Act to give the SBA the resources they need for this important mission.”