ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico restaurants and bars continue to be among some of the businesses hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic. A new, massive pool of federal cash is now being made available to help make up for their losses.
Registration opened Friday for more than $28-billion in funding from the “Restaurant Revitalization Fund.” A product of the American Rescue Plan, the funding is up grabs for all kinds of food and drink businesses, including food trucks and bars.
Some Albuquerque establishments are eyeing those funds as they continue to struggle with new challenges tied to pandemic-related closures. In Nob Hill, Scalo is among the businesses hoping to take part in the federal grant program.
“Over the last six to eight months, we’ve actually had to put more money from our pockets, personal money, just to keep this restaurant alive,” said Prashant Sawant, co-owner of Scalo at Central and Carlisle in Albuquerque. “Especially the period from late September through end of January through this year, we were not actually breaking even.”
Prashant and his wife Kristie purchased Scalo in 2019 with the hope of reopening the well-known Nob Hill restaurant before the pandemic struck in 2020. As an expensive renovation took shape at the restaurant, the pandemic delayed their plans.
It was June 2020 before the Sawant family found reopen Scalo. For many months, they were only able to use their outdoor patio for customers. While the business survived, Sawant says they’ve continued struggle.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is now offering restaurants up to $5-million in grants per location, or up to $10-million per applicant and affiliated businesses. Those funds can be used to offset pandemic-related losses, paying for things like rent, repairs, additions, and other business expenses. In most cases, those funds wouldn’t have to be repaid.
“Training is the biggest part,” Sawant said. “It’s hard to find experienced staff, so we are trying to hire anybody and everybody able or in person and we’ll train them to a level of expertise.”
Nob Hill City Councilor Pat Davis and Senator Martin Heinrich are co-hosting a virtual training about the federal grant program next week. That’s slated for Monday at 10:30 a.m. To view an invitation for the upcoming event, visit mailchi.mp/675ff5f02285/sen-heinrich-councilor-davis-offer-restaurants-help-accessing-new-fed-funds.
Businesses that received paycheck protection program money in the past can still qualify for this new restaurant grant program. To read more about the new program, visit sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/restaurant-revitalization-fund.