The Small Business Association just released a sample application for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and a program guide.
The SBA has not announced when they will begin accepting applications – today’s release is a sample application and guide so that restaurants can review and prepare.
We have reviewed early drafts of the application and discussed them with the SBA. The FAQ document
we shared earlier this week via The Snapshot reflects this.
The link to the SBA RRF page is here. The National Restaurant Association is organizing regional and national briefings with state partners and you’ll hear from us soon with additional details.
Warmer weather and additional stimulus payments bolstered consumer spending in restaurants. Restaurant sales registered a robust increase in March, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Eating and drinking places totaled $62.2 billion on a seasonally-adjusted basis in March – up 13.4% from February’s sales volume of $54.8 billion.
March represented the second healthy increase in the last three months, with total monthly sales rising more than $11 billion above the recent low registered in December 2020.
It wasn’t just restaurants that saw stronger sales in March, as consumers evidently spread the latest round of stimulus checks around their communities. Spending at sporting goods stores (+23.5%), clothing stores (+18.3%), vehicle dealers (15.1%), department stores (+13.0%) and building supply stores (+12.1%) also rose sharply between February and March.
While the trendline is pointing in the right direction, the restaurant industry’s road to recovery remains long, as the boost from the stimulus checks will wane in the coming months. Eating and drinking place sales in March remained more than $3 billion – or 5% – below their pre-pandemic level in February 2020.
In total during the first 13 months of the pandemic crisis in the U.S., total restaurant and foodservice sales were down $280 billion from expected levels, according to Association estimates. This includes the sales shortfall at eating and drinking places, plus a sharp reduction in spending at foodservice operations in sectors such as lodging, arts/entertainment/recreation, education, healthcare and retail.
A catalyst for improving restaurant sales in recent weeks was the growing number of patios that are reopening for customers. Sixty-one percent of fullservice operators say they currently offer on-premises outdoor dining in a space such as a patio, deck or sidewalk, according to a new Association survey. That’s up from just 42% in February, but still below the 74% who reported similarly in September 2020. Fifty-three percent of limited-service operators report offering on-premises outdoor dining, up from 37% in February.
Warmer temperatures will likely add to the number of al fresco dining options available to consumers in the weeks ahead, particularly in jurisdictions that allow for expanded outdoor seating. Consumers are certainly receptive to these options, with more than 8 in 10 adults saying they favor allowing restaurants to continue setting up tables on sidewalks, parking lots or streets on a permanent basis.
When “Daniel” shut down due to COVID-19, Chef Daniel Boulud quickly developed creative weekly menus, powered by an online delivery and carryout platform. His pivot shows how some restaurateurs have faced new circumstances with remarkable resilience and innovation.
“In response to the changed environment, the first thing restaurants are doing is purchasing a digital point of sale," says Andre Nataf, senior vice president of point of sale at Global Payments’ company Heartland. “In addition to accepting digital transactions, they need to have tools to engage with customers, such as email marketing capabilities, loyalty programs and a robust website presence."
New Customer Expectations
About 70% of consumers said eating at a restaurant will help them feel normal again, according to a nationwide Global Payments survey of 1,000 consumers. However, when they do arrive, they’ll be more wary of safety, cleanliness and quality.
The good news: when people feel safe, they’re likely to return. Use technology to build loyalty and trust:
Digital ordering. Customers can reserve, order and pay from their mobile apps and devices. Digital also minimizes interactions between delivery drivers and staff.
Touchless payments. Restaurants can add QR codes to digital drive-thru menu boards or restaurant receipts, with customers ordering and paying with Apple Pay or Google Wallet. About 44% of consumers are willing to tap to pay, up from 29% before the pandemic, according to the Global Payments survey.
Digitally powered inventory. Restaurants can control menus with a click or a tap for instantly reflected changes, even with multiple locations.
Cloud agility. Cloud-based platforms allow restaurants to streamline tasks including kitchen management and drive-thru operations. They also help with customer intelligence and social media reputation management, centralizing reporting and analytics for deeper, faster insights.
Guest list management. Digital POS Systems allow customers to place orders while waiting and receive texts when their tables are ready.
UV-C disinfection. Ultraviolet light can kill or inactivate 99% of microorganisms on POS devices and kiosks. It can be added to existing screens and monitor surfaces for when they've been cleaned.
Low-contact server tips. Cloud-based tip processing allows employees to receive funds on prepaid cards, and tipping software like Netspend® Tip Network™ integrate with POS systems to digitally allocate tips.
Consumers are more comfortable in a digital world–technology will only play a bigger role in the future.
At Southern University’s Football Stadium in Baton Rouge on the first day of the 2021 Louisiana Legislative Session, Governor John Bel Edwards gave his 2021 State of the State address before a crowd of Louisiana Legislators, media and special guests. Among healthcare providers ranging from doctors, nurses and lab technicians, Gov. Edwards spotlighted two restaurants staff members from City Pork Hospitality Group.
Loni Trabeaux worked throughout the pandemic serving over 500 meals for the homeless population in addition to navigating the child care challenges heightened by having a special needs child. Re’Keia Gallien also worked tirelessly throughout the last year with the restaurant group to prepare 30,000 a day for the East Baton Rouge School System.
“Both worked an enormous number of hours during the COVID crisis to help our company survive and to fulfill the mission work we were doing,” said Stephen Hightower, owner of City Pork Hospitality Group. “The recognition was well deserved and extends beyond Loni and Re’Keia. They represent tens of thousands team members who worked to aid their respective restaurant employers and customers through such a historic time.”
In addition, the Governor spoke of his agenda for the Louisiana Legislative Session which included the topic of getting more residents vaccinated against COVID-19, advocating for lawmakers to raise the minimum wage, an ADA Coordinator in the Division of Administration and an Office of Human Trafficking within the Governor’s office. The Governor also spoke of the $3B American Rescue distribution to Louisiana. He believes the first order of business is to replenish the Unemployment Trust First to ensure we can continue to pay benefits and protect businesses from tax increases, paying down debt, infrastructure improvement, and high speed affordable broadband for all Louisianans.
The City of New Orleans will extend the hours for the citywide sale of alcohol as part of the modified Phase Three guidelines and restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective as of 6 p.m. today (Friday, April 9), service and sales of alcoholic beverages at bars, restaurants and other venues shall only occur between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m., extending from the previous time of 11 p.m.
Service and sales of alcoholic beverages, whether for consumption on or off premises, and including packaged alcohol sales, shall only occur between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. in the entertainment district. This includes the French Quarter and Central Business District, which shall be defined to include all areas bounded by the Mississippi River, the center line of Esplanade Avenue, the center line of Rampart Street, and the center line of Common Street.
READ MORE: Updated Phase 3 guidelines and restrictions
On March 11, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 created the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund to provide grants for restaurants sustaining financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is administering the program, and will be issuing the necessary federal rules, regulations, and applications before grant funds are distributed. This frequently asked questions (FAQ) resource will be updated as the SBA releases information on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grant (RRFG) Program.
Click below for updated information about applications, eligibility, and figuring grant amounts.
IRS & Treasury Dept. Issue Guidance Allowing 100% Business Deduction for Food/Beverages Purchased From Restaurants
Treasury, IRS provide guidance on tax relief for deductions for food or beverages from restaurants
Businesses can temporarily deduct 100% beginning Jan. 1, 2021
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today issued Notice 2021-25 providing guidance under the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2020. The Act added a temporary exception to the 50% limit on the amount that businesses may deduct for food or beverages. The temporary exception allows a 100% deduction for food or beverages from restaurants.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2022, businesses can claim 100% of their food or beverage expenses paid to restaurants as long as the business owner (or an employee of the business) is present when food or beverages are provided and the expense is not lavish or extravagant under the circumstances. For clarity, the term “restaurant” means a business that prepares and sells food or beverages to retail customers for immediate consumption, regardless of whether the food or beverages are consumed on the business’s premises.
The National Restaurant Association thanks Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) for championing this effort, sponsoring the “Supporting America’s Restaurant Workers Act” in July 2020 and including it in year-end economic relief legislation.
Where can businesses get food and beverages and claim 100%?
Under the temporary provision, restaurants include businesses that prepare and sell food or beverages to retail customers for immediate on-premises and/or off-premises consumption. However, restaurants do not include businesses that primarily sell pre-packaged goods not for immediate consumption, such as grocery stores and convenience stores.
Additionally, an employer may not treat certain employer-operated eating facilities as restaurants, even if these facilities are operated by a third party under contract with the employer.
The SBA released the applications for the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants (SVOG) is now open! This $16 billion grant program is for eligible, shuttered venues affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to access the application portal and here to watch the SBA’s Informational Session on the program.
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.
Eligible entities include:
Other requirements of note: