Restaurants, bars, caterers and other food businesses devastated by the pandemic began applying Monday for help from a new $28.6 billion federal aid program, but the money isn’t expected to last long.
Despite a few glitches after thousands descended on the application website for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund when it went live at noon, the process was fairly straightforward, applicants said.
That was a welcome change from the technical problems that have plagued other aid programs run by the Small Business Administration, which is managing the restaurant fund.
“It was impressively smooth,” said Sarah Horak, who co-owns three bars and restaurants in Grand Forks, N.D. She was able to submit her first application just 10 minutes after she logged on to the website.
acknowledged on a webinar last week. He said he hoped Congress would provide more money as needed.
The fund offers grants of up to $10 million. The amount each business can receive equals the difference between its 2019 and 2020 gross receipts, minus certain other federal assistance such as loans from the Paycheck Protection Program.
Alaska Crepe Co., in Ketchikan, Alaska, in 2019. He applied Monday for a grant.
“We’ve had to learn to run really lean this past year,” Mr. Yoder said. The Yoders’ business depends heavily on cruise visitors, and this year — like last year — could be a near-total loss on the tourism front.
Mr. Yoder took a full-time tech industry job last year to support his family and business. “We’re making enough to keep the doors open, but we’re certainly not profitable,” he said. “We’re losing money every day we’re open.”
Tamra Patterson, the owner of Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe in Memphis, was still trying to complete her application late on Monday afternoon. She made it through several steps but then got a message saying her responses had failed the agency’s “knowledge based authentication” check.
The S.B.A. said in a Twitter post that it was having trouble with that portion of the application process. “Your place in line is reserved and you will be able to complete your application shortly,” it informed those experiencing problems.
Ms. Patterson, who is Black, said she had not been approved for any other federal aid programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program. “Every time I tried to apply I ran into some type of hiccup,” she said.