On Saturday, April 17, the Small Business Administration (SBA) activated a new website and released a sample application form for the Restaurant Revitalization Act grant program established under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (for more on this program, see our alert from April 12). Although applications are not yet being accepted, the limited funding available for this tax-free grant program and its first-come-first-served approach mean that applicants should lose no time in completing the new form so they can submit it at the earliest possible opportunity.

For the first 21 days, only applications from priority groups will be processed, but after that, forms from all others will be considered in the order in which they were received. Priority groups include restaurants, bars, and other food-serving establishments that are owned 51% or more by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Under SBA guidelines, “socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities.” Additionally, “[e]conomically disadvantaged individuals are those socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same business area who are not socially disadvantaged.”

While it is possible that Congress will vote to expand funding of this program, for now the appropriated $28.6 million will not cover all establishments that will seek relief, and time is of the essence in completing and submitting applications. As with other federal government COVID-19 relief programs, the ground rules and application form can be complicated to apply in real-world business circumstances. Lewis Brisbois' team is experienced in working with clients to maximize benefits and ensure compliance with all applicable legal requirements.

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