From Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center By Jim Carroll

With the sunset of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, there is little, if any, good news for restaurateurs and small business owners about any further Federal Disaster Relief Loan/Grant programs.

As COVID’s Omicron variant sweeps the nation, it is creating further uncertainty for all small businesses, especially restaurants and bars.  Efforts to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) and other relief programs appear to be stalled in Congress.  Furthermore, the White House is signaling that this vital small business segment may not be receiving any more targeted support.  During a recent press conference, an Administration official stated “…there might be something small for restaurants.  But the economy is booming, there are millions of open jobs, and we do not believe people should be sitting at home if they are vaccinated and boosted, as most adults are”.

This position was reinforced by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who stated “we did a major relief package that included helping restaurants just last year”, and she also added that the Administration had no new pending requests for more funding for small businesses at this time.

At this time, there are three separate congressional proposals pending that would replenish the RRF for varying amounts, generally between $48-$70 billion.  However, but few observers believe that any of the trio will become law.  As a result, restaurant owners are increasingly concerned about their viability as the pandemic enters yet another year.

For SBDC clients in this industry segment, 2022 starts with no federal relief in sight.  Therefore, in order to survive, clients will need to continue to pivot and innovate with the meager resources available to them.  Congress and the Administration have moved on to other priorities, leaving eateries on their own during this time of uncertainty.  Numerous challenges continue to confront small business owners and only the strongest, most innovative of them will survive.