VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Steve Valenta said he spent 10 years and his life savings on his Vancouver restaurant, Mighty Bowl. But the omicron wave is actually harder for him than the initial pandemic shutdowns because of more sick calls, higher food costs and supply chain issues.

“We’ve lost so much money, especially the last quarter. It’s just sickening,” Valenta told KOIN 6 News. “To watch it unravel right before my eyes is a wild experience. It’s been really hard.”

Steve Valenta, the owner of The Mighty Bowl in Vancouver, January 25, 2022 (KOIN)

COVID, he said, has turned the industry model upside down and they need to adapt. But he said more money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will help buy them time to figure it out.

US Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington is continuing her push to help local restaurants get more federal funding through that program.

A lot of small restaurants, like Valenta’s Mighty Bowl, said they tried to get aid through the RRF but weren’t able to.

Cantwell told KOIN 6 News on Tuesday that if she gets the funding she’s pushing for there should be enough for everyone who’s qualified.

Workers at The Mighty Bowl in Vancouver, January 25, 2022 (KOIN)

“We think if we double the amount of money that we had put forth last time, that we would come close to covering a big chunk, most of those businesses,” Cantwell said.

“We want to take today’s information and go back to Washington, DC and fight even harder for a second round of funding for restaurants in coming months,” Cantwell said “In the COVID package that included funding for restaurants, only about half of the businesses in our state who were eligible actually got help and support.”

Valenta’s message to Congress is to pass this plan. But his message to the whole community is simple: Buy local.