Ohio just made $100 million available for the state’s beleaguered restaurants, which saw plummeting sales last year as customers stayed home or resorted to carry out and delivery in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state began accepting applications on Tuesday.
Eligible businesses include bars, taverns, nightclubs, restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, caterers, buffets, snack and juice bars and food trucks.
In order to apply for grants worth $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000, restaurants must have been in business since at least Dec. 1, 2019 and have at least one location in Ohio.
The size of the grant depends on a restaurant’s losses in 2020, and the money can be spent on a range of expenses, including rent, utilities, personal protective equipment and employee salaries.
Grants through the program are available to any restaurant or restaurant chain that experienced a 10% or greater revenue drop in 2020 and are in good standing with state regulators.
Other grant programs are available to music venues, hotels and small businesses that opened in 2020.
Ohio Restaurant Association President and CEO John Barker applauded the state for appropriating the funds.
“Given the long road so many in our industry have to recover from the last 15 months of losses, operating restrictions and additional costs, this relief is needed,” he said in a news release.
The relief money comes from an COVID aid package Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law in May.
Few industries in Ohio were more impacted by the spread of coronavirus than the hospitality industry, which lost roughly half of its jobs at the height of the pandemic last year and has yet to fully recover, even as customers return to in person dining.
And service businesses such as restaurants still face high hurdles.
Workers with limited access to childcare or relatives with chronic medical conditions are still wary of returning to restaurant work, creating a hiring shortage.
Restaurants throughout Ohio have closed or reduced their hours for lack of employees.
To add to the stress that keeps restaurateurs awake at night, the prices for key ingredients such as chicken are on the rise thanks to supply chain problems, forcing restaurants to either raise prices or tighten their already razor thin profit margins.
HOW TO APPLY
Applications for relief money can be submitted at BusinessHelp.Ohio.gov.
The Ohio Restaurant Association has a list of everything needed to apply on its website.