What’s Holding Up Restaurant Revitalization Fund Disbursement for Small Businesses

Throughout the pandemic, small businesses have had a difficult time staying afloat. Emergency COVID-19 assistance funds have been a saving grace for some. Unfortunately, for those that haven’t been able to secure funds, the past year-and-a-half has left them wondering when and if the U.S. government will provide them with additional assistance. The future of one funding program, in particular, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, has been up in the air for months.

The SBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) was created as a lifeline for struggling restaurants and other eligible businesses. $28.6 billion in grant money was set aside from the American Rescue Plan Act to help restaurants keep their doors open. More than 370,000 businesses applied for the funds; however, more than 250,000 didn’t receive funding. Fewer than one third of applicants were approved. Funds have since run out, leaving applications in limbo and business owners wondering what’s next. 


The depletion of funds hasn’t been the only problem. The current political climate is posing a threat to more funding. Some RRF applicants filed lawsuits against the SBA claiming racial and sexual discrimination because the fund prioritized eligible businesses with limited financial resources—this included businesses owned by veterans, minorities, and women. As a result, RRF disbursements halted, and more than 3,000 approved applicants had their awards rescinded.


Additionally, ongoing legislative attempts to replenish the RRF have fallen short. In June, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021 (Replenishment Act) was introduced to allocate an additional $60 billion to the fund. While this bill is still pending, a Missouri congressman introduced the ENTRÉE Act to reallocate $60 billion from unspent Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to the fund and remove the priority initially given to specific groups. It’s doubtful that this particular bill will pass. In early August, bipartisan efforts in the Senate to approve $48 billion for the RRF were also unsuccessful. 

Expiration Dates

As the future of the RRF remains uncertain, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure improvement bill also creates much concern for restaurants and other businesses. The Employee Retention Credit (ERC), a part of the CARES ACT, provides restaurants and other businesses with 500 or fewer employees with an advance against their taxes of up to 70 percent of their Social Security payroll taxes. Restaurants could lose aid when that tax benefit expires on September 30th. The House is expected to vote September 27th on whether to extend this measure under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal passed by the Senate in August.

What’s Next?

While we’re unsure what the outcome will be for the RRF, we remain hopeful Congress will rectify the issues created by the SBA. With the widespread and bipartisan support from 213 cosponsors, we anticipate H.R. 3807 will pass this month. In the meantime, we urge you to make your voices heard – reach out to your representatives and senators. Plead your cases and let them know the RRF, or lack thereof, has a significant impact on small businesses, their owners, and local economies. 

We will continue to monitor the progress of these bills and be sure to keep everyone updated. The Loan Mantra team understands the struggles small businesses are facing today and is here to pair them with potential funding sources. Our online platform, BLUE, takes into consideration details about your business in order to match it to the best funding sources. Contact us today so we can guide you to finding the best options for supporting your business through uncertain times.