Relief funds available for restaurants, bars

Restaurants and bars will lose money because of the governor’s order to suspend indoor dining until mid-December, but the state is offering $40 million in CARES Act relief money to those that qualify to help offset some of their losses.

Cindy Banks, executive director of the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce, sent out an email Wednesday morning to chamber members letting them know that the new Food and Beverage Relief Fund money became available that day, but the application process wouldn’t begin until noon on Nov. 30.

Applications will be reviewed by the Public Protection Cabinet beginning that day. The process will end just before midnight on Dec. 18 or when all funds are exhausted.

Businesses should “prepare the necessary paperwork to apply on Monday, as these funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis,” she said.

The application is available at https://teamkyfbrf.ky.gov/ along with more information about the program. Businesses will be able to call or email beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 30.

Beginning Dec. 8, payments are expected to be dispensed as lump sum payments to owners for eligible expenses.

Robert Pritchett, an owner of Bargains on Broadway in Winchester, said he will apply for the relief funds. The last time the governor closed indoor dining, in March, he said, he applied for relief funds but didn’t get any. He hopes this time is different.

“We are working out ways to keep everybody working for three weeks,” and he’s prepared to lose money to avoid having to lay off anyone during the holiday season, but it would help to have the relief money to make up some of the loss, he said.

Rawle Somersal, owner of the Blue Isle Home-Style Restaurant and Bar on Boone Avenue, said he probably would apply. He said he did get $6,000 in a forgivable loan from the CARES Act in March, and that’s how he has been able to keep his workers on the job.

“I haven’t had to release any employees,” he said.

This time the money is not a loan, but rather a grant.

“It would help us some,” the owner said, but almost all of the restaurant’s business is indoor dining, he said.

The maximum amount available to any one business entity is $20,000, and the maximum per location is $10,000.

Not all restaurants qualify for the funds. Those that are owned by publicly traded corporations, for example, are not, nor are those fast-food franchises that get at least 50 percent of their sales from drive-throughs.

The program is intended to favor locally owned and operated sit-down establishments that are now limited to carry-out service and socially distanced outdoor seating.

As another way to help bars, restaurants and temporary venues hurt by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, Beshear earlier this month waived alcoholic beverage renewal fees for 12 months.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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