Iowa restaurant owners got $122 million from a federal relief fund, but many are still waiting for their payday.
Driving the news: The U.S. Small Business Administration released numbers Monday showing how much funding its Restaurant Revitalization Fund doled out to individual businesses.
Why it matters: The fund — which launched in May as part of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 — is more flexible than the Paycheck Protection Program loans that were initially offered to restaurants and bars during the pandemic.
Grant funds can cover everything from wage increases to remodeling.
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Of note: Early funds were reserved for businesses owned by people of color, women and veterans, but lawsuits stopped the SBA from distributing funds based on sex or race.
Chart: Axios Visuals; Data: SBA
Zoom in: Bubba, a Southern-style restaurant downtown, received nearly $600K in funds. It's mostly women-owned, said managing partner Chris Diebel.
Funds will help with deferred maintenance costs like replacing the carpet. It'll also help increase worker wages to try and attract potential employees through the doors, Diebel said.
Yes, but: Funds were exhausted quickly and the majority of Iowa restaurant owners who applied for relief did not receive it, said Jessica Dunker, president of the Iowa Restaurant Association.
What's next: Congress is considering a $60 billion bill that would replenish the fund and provide money to all qualified applicants.
It has bipartisan support locally from Republican Sen. Joni Ernst and Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne.
Editor's note: Wednesday's chart included incorrect data regarding the grant money several Des Moines businesses received from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The chart has since been corrected above.
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