Restaurants seek COVID-19 relief in Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Nearly 4,000 Washington restaurants qualified for the restaurant revitalization fund to help ease revenue losses associated with the pandemic, but not all received the funding. 

SPOKANE, Wash. — Restaurants say they are still dealing with the fallout of the pandemic, and omicron has hit their staff hard.

Nearly 4,000 Washington restaurants qualified for the restaurant revitalization fund to help ease revenue losses associated with the pandemic. But not all received the funding.

There’s is now a bipartisan push to get more COVID-19 relief funding to the hospitality industry.

Zona Blanca and The Swinging Doors are just a few that applied for the RRF and qualified, but never got the funds.

“We understood where the funds went kind of just decided that we weren’t going to be getting that but then heard about this second round that is being introduced and we definitely would be able to use that money,” Lisa Emery said.

The Small Business Administration prioritized women, veteran-owned businesses, and businesses economically and socially disadvantaged.

Emery says they forked over a lot of money on COVID-related safety purposes such as sanitizing products, barriers for the tables, and tents to use for outdoor dining.

They hope to use RRF to reimburse some of those costs.

Emery says they were down $1 million in sales in 2020. They did receive both rounds of the payment protection program, however, that money didn’t come close to recovering the loss.

“We’re still working our way getting our heads above water,” Emery said.

They also had to make cuts such as consolidating their menu. The Swinging Doors’ notorious free birthday steak is no longer being offered.

Owners also cut the NFL Sunday ticket that would have cost them $8,000 for a subscription.

Chad White, the owner of Zona Blanca, High Tide, and TT’s BBQ says he’s also currently in a tough spot.

“I’m at a point right now at high tide if we go up another $100 a case, I have to close my doors because people are not willing to pay and I don’t feel comfortable charging the prices that I’m charging right now,” he said.

White says he did receive PPP funds which were a huge help. But its been almost a year since he applied for the RRF and has never received the money. He says he heard the funding ran out.

The RRF would help with a plethora of things such as keeping employment levels higher to keeping guests safe.

White says he’s working a position at the restaurant, he helps the team open and close as he deals with difficulty holding onto a level staff base because he’s constantly having to cut hours.

“It’s been very fluctuating. It’s peaks and valleys at this point. Last week we had a great week, this week we started off as an absolute terrible week if you will,” White said.

He said the community has played a huge role in keeping the doors open.

“They’re putting their money in our pockets and they’re keeping our doors open and if it wasn’t for them we would’ve been long gone,” White said.

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