Booze Companies Partners to Fund $ 3 Million Grants Program for New York Restaurants


Bisnow / Kelsey Neubauer

Al fresco dining in Manhattan’s East Village in December 2020

New York has a new fund to help restaurant owners adapt their businesses to the coronavirus pandemic.

A privately funded $ 3 million grant program will allow restaurants to apply for up to $ 5,000 in relief to use for things like renovating spaces to meet state-imposed social distancing requirements and improving outdoor dining facilities, Empire State Development Corp. announced Tuesday. .

The fund, nicknamed the “Raising the Bar” Restaurant Recovery Fund, is funded by alcohol company Diageo, which owns brands such as Guinness, Don Julio, Bailey’s and Johnnie Walker, and liquor distributor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. The nonprofit National Development Council will review applications and award grants.

“The restaurant industry is a vital part of our state’s economy – encompassing hundreds of small businesses that employ thousands of New Yorkers,” said Eric Gertler, president and CEO-designate of Empire. State Development Corp. in a press release. “This industry has been among the hardest hit by the devastating effects of COVID-19, working hard to stay open, serve customers and keep employees safe.”

The fund is intended for restaurants that raised less than $ 3 million in 2019, and applications will be accepted from January 11. It comes after the federal stimulus package signed last month offered no direct relief to restaurants. The industry lobbied the Senate to adopt a $ 120 billion relief fund to subsidize losses suffered during the pandemic. The bill, dubbed the RESTAURANTS Act, has already been passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives.

Fifty-four percent of restaurants in the state say they won’t go the next six months without federal help, according to a survey released by the New York State Restaurant Association last month. That’s higher than the national estimate of 36%, according to the trade association.

“Our once vibrant restaurant industry is suffering,” NYSRA President and CEO Melissa Fleischut said in a statement. “Our members are worse off economically than most restaurants across the country… it’s time our elected officials started fighting to save the industry before it’s too late. One of our last hopes is financial assistance from the federal government.

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