Things are more open, but restaurants still struggling

Coronavirus

64% of businesses that applied did not receive any money from Restaurant Revitalization Fund

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Even though things are starting to open back up many restaurants are still struggling to recover after a hard 16 months.

The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund is already gone, dispersed to restaurants nationwide. But 64% of restaurants who applied didn’t get anything.

That’s why the Independent Restaurant Coalition is pushing lawmakers to provide more funding. The IRC said the damage the pandemic did to the restaurant industry will last for years to come. Even though more people are going out more, businesses need the funding to continue to survive.

Gregory Gourdet, the chef of Kann in Portland and a co-founder of IRC, said, “Our neighborhood restaurants continue to hurt and it’s definitely up to us to make this much- needed relief happen.”

Vibrant Table Catering and Events in Portland was one of more than 100,000 businesses to at least get something. Owner Art Fortuna said they lost 90% of their business when things shut down in 2020 and are still only back to about 25% of where they were before the pandemic.

“Right now we’d be very anxious, very anxious,” Fortuna said. “We’re starting to see business come back, but it’s a long slow process.”

Vibrant Catering and Events along with Multnomah Falls Company each got $5 million from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Capers Cafe and Catering Company, with 2 locations inside PDX and a production facility outside the airport, received $6.9 million. Their owner told KOIN 6 News that doesn’t even cover the $12 million loss of revenue they saw when travel came to a halt.

Art Fortuna, the owner of Vibrant Catering and Events in Portland, July 19, 2021 (KOIN)

Fortuna said he feels extrememely fortunate to be among those who got funding and told me recovering would be a lot more difficult without it. And he said he also feels for other businesses that didn’t get any money.

“This was a huge blow. People don’t understand how big of a blow this has been for the whole industry and you know it’s going to take a while to recover,” Fortuna said.

Roughly 100,000 restaurants across the country closed from the pandemic, the IRC said. Unless the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is replenished, even more restaurants will go under.

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