Pandemic relief soon available for bars, restaurants: 'Apply early'

Woven into the fabric of our communities, some locally-owned restaurants and bars have found themselves hanging on by a thread throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, nearly $30 billion in grants are up for grabs, dedicated to revitalizing some of the nation's hardest-hit businesses.

"What makes our city and our state so special are these little independent operators," said Daniel Jacobs, Milwaukee chef and business owner. "Independent restaurants act as a gateway to cultures, to communities."

Jacobs is the chef and owner of DanDan, EsterEv, and soon-to-open Fool's Errand in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. 

"Even though we think this is going to be successful, it also seems kind of crazy, and a 'fool's errand' to open a restaurant during a pandemic," Jacobs said.

Daniel Jacobs

Jacobs also serves on the Independent Restaurant Coalition's leadership committee and is encouraging eligible business owners to take advantage of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund -- or RRF.

Under the American Rescue Plan Act, $28.6 billion in grants is available to restaurants, bars, food trucks and other entities.

"This fund will, more than likely, run out, so I highly recommend restaurant and bar owners jump on it as soon as possible," said Jacobs. "Apply, apply early."

Fool's Errand in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward

Not open just yet, a spokeswoman with the Small Business Administration, which is distributing the grants, said the application process is expected to launch in April.

Jacobs adds that the process became even easier when, this week, two inconvenient steps were removed.

"Which were both cumbersome, long, complicated and only in English," Jacobs said. "We really feel like this was a real big win for us and for restaurants and bars across the country."

To be the first to know when the application process launches, Jacobs urges restaurant and bar owners to sign up for the Independent Restaurant Coalition's newsletter at saverestaurants.com. For Milwaukee IRC's newsletter, visit mkeirc.com

Grant money will be determined based on pandemic-related revenue loss.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association is also providing various resources to help restaurant and bar owners understand the grant process. For those resources, CLICK HERE

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