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Grants Announced To Help Restaurants Reeling From COVID-19's Economic Effects

Brian Bull

Small to mid-sized restaurants hit hard by the pandemic will have relief soon. Two Oregon lawmakers shared the news in Eugene today.

The American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden has money dedicated to restaurateurs.

“This new package of restaurant relief is grants. No questions about forgiveness. You get the money, that’s it,” said U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio.  “$28 billion finally dedicated to restaurants, and I must include, breweries.”

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
(From L to R:) U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cafe Soriah owner Ibrahim Hamide, and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) at today's news conference.

Joining DeFazio was U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. 

“Too long in the coronavirus debate, restaurants really didn’t have – like the big businesses had – a menu of options for survival.”

The Small Business Administration will handle the grant program, called the Restaurant Revitalization fund.  Amounts are expected to be the difference between 2019 and 2020 gross receipts.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Exterior of Cafe Soriah in Eugene.

The news conference was hosted by Café Soriah, on West 13th Avenue.  Owner Ibrahim Hamide welcomes the fund.

“I’ve been doing this for 52 years, I’m not eligible for job retraining programs, I am sure, at my age,” joked Hamide. “And I’m grateful, and so are some of my colleagues who are in this business, because their pockets were not deep enough to rescue themselves out of that hole that was dug by the pandemic, with no fault of their own.”

The grants – which are expected to be made available later this month - can go towards rent, inventory, paid sick leave, and other costs related to running a restaurant or brewery.

Across the country, thousands of restaurants – including a couple dozen in Eugene – have shuttered due to the economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Optimism remains high that over time, these businesses can resume normal operations after the majority of Americans are vaccinated and cases of the novel coronavirus decline.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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