The Small Business Administration is accepting applications now. Your business could be eligible for up to $10 million in grant funding.
As COVID-19 restrictions across the country begin to ease, restaurants, bars and foodservice businesses are finally starting to see signs of life after a devastating year.
Food and beverage business owners will get some help with reopening from the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).
Those who apply may be able to receive funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business, but no more than $5 million per physical location.
Grants can cover operational costs, including equipment, rent, inventory and business insurance.
The Small Business Administration began accepting applications on May 3 and will continue taking them until the fund is exhausted.
If you want to apply, here are a few steps to get you started.
Step 1: Register
Before you can apply, you must register on the Restaurant Revitalization Award Portal.
You need an email address and cell phone with service provided by a United States domestic wireless carrier. You can't register using a VOIP or international phone number because you must be able to receive text messages from the SBA to verify your identity.
If you already have an account with the SBA, you still need to register for this program because it's not linked to other SBA accounts or portals.
NOTE: If you are applying through a point of sale partner, you don't need to register before beginning your application.
Step 2: Gather your documents
Before you begin your application, it's a good idea to gather the documents the SBA needs to verify your tax records, gross receipts and expenses.
Here's a list of items you should be prepared to provide when you complete your application.
Tax forms and bank statements
You'll need to complete IRS form 4506-T so the SBA can verify your tax returns for the last couple of years. You'll also need to provide bank statements for the previous three months.
The amount of money you receive is determined, in part, by the difference in your gross receipts between 2019 and 2020.
RRF program managers will also look at the difference between your eligible expenses and 2020 and 2021 gross receipts if your business hasn't opened or it opened between January 1, 2020, and March 10, 2021.
To help the SBA verify your gross receipts, you must provide one or more of the following:
- Business tax returns (IRS Form 1120 or IRS Form 1120-S)
- Point of sale reports, including IRS Form 1099-K
- IRS forms 1040 Schedule C; IRS Form 1040 Schedule F
- Partnership's IRS form 1065, including K-1s (if applicable)
- Internally or externally prepared income statements or profit and loss statements (NOTE: It may take longer to process your application if you provide this type of documentation.)
Expense documents (if applicable)
If you opened your business between January 1, 2020, and March 10, 2021, or you're not yet open for business, but you have eligible expenses, you need to provide documentation so the SBA can verify your expenses.
The SBA’s preferred method is a comfort letter from a qualified accountant, bookkeeper or CPA with profit and loss statements and balance sheet documentation.
The purpose of the comfort letter is to show that a third-party has reviewed your P&L statements and balance sheet, and they are accurate.
If you don't have a comfort letter, you can provide one of the following:
- Financial statements or profit and loss statements that are signed, dated and certified for their accuracy
- Expense documentation, such as payroll documents, invoices, receipts, credit card statements, loan statements, etc.
If you use one of these forms of documentation, it may take longer to process your application.
Certain types of businesses must also show that at least 33% of their sales occurred on site.
If you own a brewpub, tasting room, taproom, brewery, winery, distillery or bakery, you must provide documentation that shows on-site sales to the public were at least 33% of your business's 2019 gross receipts.
If you own an inn, you must show that at least 33% of your gross receipts in 2019 were from the sale of food and beverages.
Step 3: Complete your application
Once you've prepared the necessary documentation, it's time to complete the application.
There are two ways to apply for funding — directly through the SBA website at restaurants.sba.gov or through Square or Toast, two of the SBA's recognized point of sale (POS) vendors.
If you work with Aloha or Clover, you'll need to apply through the SBA website, but they will provide the gross receipt documentation you need to upload into your application.
It's important to note that you must provide an electronic signature verifying that all of the information is accurate and you have the authority to apply before you submit an application. So, it's important that the business owner and not someone working on their behalf complete the process.
When the application is complete, you can track its status at any time through the portal.
Step 4: Using money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund
If you receive a grant from the RRF, there are many ways you can use the money to help your business, including:
- Utility payments
- Supplies and equipment
- Mortgage and other debt: you can't prepay principal and interest, but you can set aside funds you receive to make your payments each month until March 11, 2023.
- Construction expenses for outdoor seating
- Food and beverages
- Covered supplier costs
- Operating expenses, such as business insurance, marketing, licenses, fees, etc.
If you have plans to expand your business, you'll have to find another way to fund it. Expansion projects, such as adding indoor seating, building a drive-thru or purchasing additional business vehicles are not eligible for funding.
How long will it take for my application to be processed?
After you submit your application, it takes about two weeks for it to be processed.
From May 3 to May 23, the SBA will only process applications from women, minority and veteran-owned and operated businesses.
However, all eligible businesses can apply now. Applications from businesses that aren't in the priority group will be processed beginning on May 24.
The SBA will process and fund applications in the order in which they are approved.
For additional details and the most up-to-date information about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, check out the SBA's website.
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