On today’s show we’re talking about how some businesses were largely left out in the cold over the past year, despite being mandated to close, or drastically scale back their business to prevent spread of the pandemic.
A number of new initiatives have been brought forward since December and again most recently in the past month.
Last week the SBA revealed the much anticipated timeline for $28.6B grant program for restaurants hit hard by the pandemic. This is one sector that has seen thousands of businesses close permanently. Those that remain are hanging on by a thread.
I’ve spoken with several restaurant owners in recent weeks about how they have fared during the pandemic. It didn’t matter whether they were located in the US, Canada or the UK. The story has been pretty much the same.
Naturally, they’ve laid off staff in order to survive. The biggest issue has been whether their landlords have been willing to work with the business or not.
In cases where the landlord insisted on getting paid full rent throughout the pandemic, many restaurants have been forced to close.
Many of the owners I’ve spoken with have adapted their menu and have created new menus specifically optimized for the take-out experience.
But in most cases, these businesses have needed more than just a pivot to take-out business. Survival has required a combination of rent relief from landlords or government assistance.
Those restaurants that are still left standing after the pandemic is over will in my opinion do a booming business.
The Small Business Administration in the USA is planning to roll out the Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program within 30 days.
Those who are in the performing arts have also been stripped of their income in the past year. This includes musicians, actors, comedians, magicians, and all of the supporting businesses that form part of the performing arts. We’re talking about lighting and sound technicians, directors, ticket agents, ushers, and the food and drink concessions that form part of most performing arts venues.
Earlier this year The SBA only recently announced the rollout of its Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, first passed into law by Congress in December.
The SBA said potential applicants must be registered in the federal government’s system for award management (SAM) in order to receive a grant. I can tell you from first hand experience, that getting a SAM number is a bureaucratic process that has a few stumbling spots in the process.
Eligible businesses include live venue operators, promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, museums, zoos, aquariums and theaters themselves.
But even with the April 8 start date, eligible businesses will have to wait in line. The SBA has said the first 14 days of this program will only be open to venues that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between this past April and December, due to Covid-19. The subsequent 14 days will be reserved for venues that suffered a 70% revenue loss or more in that time. Only after the first 28 days can venues that suffered smaller losses be considered for the grants.
Grants are sized by the average monthly gross revenue for each full month a company was operational, then multiplied by six and capped at $10 million. Funds can be used for a wide variety of expenses, including payroll, rent, utility payments, scheduled mortgage and debt payments, personal protective equipment, independent contractor payments, admin costs, state and local taxes, and even insurance and capital.
We’re starting to see the return to normal for many businesses as the number of vaccinations increase. Some restaurants are now more than 50% full during dinner hours. The patterns have changed. It used to be the case that Friday lunch hour was the busiest. Now Monday and Tuesday lunch hours are the busiest.