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Relief on the way for Florida’s hardest hit restaurants

$28.6 billion will be available as part of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

TAMPA, Fla — Here in Florida business is booming. But it wasn’t that way a year ago. And while some fast food and take-out restaurants recovered quickly, many of Florida’s small mom-and-pop sit-down restaurants are still struggling to recover.

“They just got clobbered,” said Miguel Miranda of MyRestaurantCFO, a consulting firm that helps restaurants with their accounting and payroll. “You saw anywhere between 50 to 70 percent down in revenue which hurt a lot of people.”

But now help could be on the way as part of the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund.      

The U.S. Small Business Administration reports receiving more than 186,000 applications since the program opened up on Monday.

“It’s not a lifeline-- It’s the Coast Guard coming to get you out of the water,” said Miranda of the program's potential impact on restaurants. “It’s going to be a huge change for them especially the ones that got hardest hit.”

Miranda says, unlike last year’s Payroll Protection Program this funding can be spent in a variety of ways on pandemic-related expenses.

“It’s definitely about operation so it’s not just about payroll only or food cost. It’s pretty much anything to get your restaurant moving forward,” he said.

He says that could mean investing in an online ordering system or building a patio for outdoor dining-- changes many restaurants simply couldn’t afford during the pandemic.

“It’s going to make a massive difference if they use it correctly I think it’s definitely what this industry needed,” Miranda says.

Only restaurants that can show a significant year-to-year loss from 2019 will be eligible for the funding of up to $10 million per business.

That means large chains won’t be eligible.

Some businesses have already started receiving the funding with the average processing time expected to take around 14 days.

“Most likely if you’re in the first group, you should start seeing money by the end of this month,” Miranda says.

The Biden administration says for the first 21 days, applications from businesses owned by women, veterans, and economically disadvantaged groups will be prioritized. After that, the funds will be available to everyone on a first-come, first-serve basis.

$9.5 billion is set aside for America’s smallest bars and restaurants including millions for establishments like food trucks bringing in under $50,000 in revenue a year.

RELATED: Biden touts applications to $28.6B restaurant relief program

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