Al Fresco Dining in Greenwich Village in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic. – New York NY USA-March 21, 2021 (Shutterstock)
New York City restaurants were hard hit during the pandemic. With stay-at-home orders, the indoor dining shutdown, and social distancing restrictions, many New York City restaurant owners simply could not afford to remain open during this pandemic. Reports indicate that more than 1, 000 restaurants in New York City closed down during the pandemic. Many of these restaurants were staples in their neighborhoods and employed people who are now left to fend for work. Some of the restaurants we lost during the pandemic include Aquagrill, in Soho, which opened in 1996; Grazie in the Upper East Side closed after 27 years in business; Bennie’s Thai Café in the Financial District closed after 24 years; Fluffys’ in Hell’s Kitchen closed after 45 years in business.
During an exclusive interview with People, Power, and Politics Radio Show, Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, spoke passionately about New York City restaurants and encouraged New Yorkers to do their part to revive them. Restaurants provide their patrons with more than food. Restaurants are central to New York social life; providing a gathering place for all types of celebrations and other events. Mr. Rigie encouraged New Yorkers to support the restaurants in whatever manner they can, whether that means to dine indoors or to order take-out. Mr. Rigie said that patrons can also support their favorite restaurants by giving them a review and posting updates on social media. Positive posts on social media may bring extra attention to restaurants as owners do their best to recover financially.
People, Power, and Politics Radio Show asked Mr. Rigie about the city’s Paycheck Protection Program and how restaurant owners have been able to benefit from this and other programs to assist business owners during the pandemic. Andrew Rigie explained that the city’s Paycheck Protection Program and most of the other “…grant and loan programs put in place during this pandemic were not created with restaurant owners in mind.” Most restaurant owners were left out and did not receive money from these programs.
Listen to an interview with Andrew Rigie on “Running for Brooklyn Borough President” below:
However, Andrew Rigie expressed enthusiasm about the city’s $28.6 billion dollar Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which began accepting applications on May 3, 2021, and encouraged restaurant owners to apply as soon as possible, before the money runs out. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides grants to restaurants, food trucks, caterers, bars, and other similar type eligible businesses that experienced reduction in revenue due to the pandemic. The grant money is intended to help these businesses remain open. Applicants must apply online and be prepared to show supporting documentation, such as tax returns and receipts. “This is free grant money that you don’t have to pay back,” stressed Mr. Rigie, Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. Restaurant owners who did not get approved for the Paycheck Protection Program were hopeful they would get funding this time. “This feels easy. This is specialized for restaurant owners. I believe I will qualify,” exclaimed one restaurant owner of a popular eatery, who preferred to remain nameless while giving his comment.
People, Power, and Politics Radio Show discussed the qualifications for the grant monies from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund with Andrew Rigie. Rigie said that restaurants that have already closed their doors are not eligible for this funding. However, he strongly encouraged restaurant owners to apply with a sense of urgency because it remains unknown how long the funding will last. The application can be completed on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. To get complete details and complete the online application go to https://restaurants.sba.gov. To learn more about Mr. Andrew Rigie and get updates about support for New York City restaurants and nightlife, visit https://thenycalliance.com.
***Please note that since our interview with Andrew Rigie and as of press time, applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund are closed. The U.S. Small Business Administration will accept applications from all eligible applications. However, they will “…only process and fund priority group applications.”
Listen to the podcast of Andrew Rigie’s full exclusive interview on People, Power, & Politics Radio Show by clicking here. You may also listen to full shows of People, Power, & Politics Radio Show at anchor.fm/pppradio, on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, and RadioPublic.