NJ restaurants demand new round of aid as pandemic struggles continue

Ehren Ryan was one of the lucky ones.

Its Common Lot restaurant in Millburn was one of 3,086 restaurants, bars and other dining establishments in New Jersey receiving a total of $ 913.5 million through the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

The money helped him retain his staff and pay the bills even as business dwindled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, he said.

But many others weren’t so lucky. The restaurant fund ran out of money before 4,706 other New Jersey dining establishments could get federal aid.

Ryan said he hopes there will be a new round of restaurant aids.

“To be honest I think it would be great,” he said. “Lots of restaurants missed.”

Legislation from Congress would add an additional $ 60 billion to the fund, which previously provided $ 913.5 million to 3,086 New Jersey businesses through the Small Business Administration.

It comes at a time when restaurant employment fell in August for the first time since December 2020, by industry occupational group, the National Association of Restaurateurs.

“The small gains our industry has made in financial security risk being wiped out, dashing the hopes of communities, entrepreneurs and consumers nationwide,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs of the group of restaurants.

The restaurant fund was created under the same $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, passed unanimously by the Republican opposition, which also handed out $ 1,400 checks to many Americans .

Nationally, 278,304 companies requested $ 72.2 billion, but there was only $ 28.6 billion available to help 101,004 eligible establishments.

“There is a strong unmet demand,” said Veronica Pugin, senior advisor in the Small Business Administration’s Access to Capital Office. “There is no doubt that small businesses have appreciated the RRF program.

So demanding that the legislation to be renewed the restaurant fund has attracted 15 Senate sponsors, including Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and 219 in the House, including the 12 members of the Garden State.

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For now, restaurants can take advantage of COVID-19 economic disaster loans. Applications are still accepted until December 31st.

The loans bear interest rates of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for private non-profit organizations. They can be repaid over 30 years.

“You have small businesses that ask, ‘What’s left? Pugin said. That’s what’s left, she said.

There are also grant programs of up to $ 15,000 for small businesses in low-income communities that have suffered significant losses from the coronavirus.

These programs “have been lifesavers for thousands and thousands of businesses,” Pugin said.

As the delta variant forces governments to reinstate mask warrants and Americans again restrict activities indoors, more companies seek help under EIDL programs and the SBA has facilitated the application and accelerated the processing of applications, she said.

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Jonathan D. Salant can be reached at [email protected].

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