Outside of the Madison Bar and Grill in Hoboken, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) joined Mayor Ravi Bhalla and other local dignitaries to discuss the $28.6 billion restaurant relief component of the American Rescue Plan.
” … This grant program is a much-needed lifeline for so many struggling restaurants and can mean the difference between an ‘Open’ or ‘Closed’ sign on their front door,” Menendez said this morning. I fought hard for this funding and I’m proud to say ‘help is on the way’,” Menendez said this morning.
“Early on in the pandemic Mayor Bhalla made tough but necessary choices in order to protect the health and safety of his community. He has been one of the strongest advocates for robust, targeted funding for the restaurant industry and I appreciate his leadership in our state.”
Hoboken was the first city in the state, and one of the first in the country, to close indoor dining at bars and restaurants last year during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Brighter days are ahead for Hoboken and our hospitality industry, in large part thanks to the historic American Rescue Plan championed by Senator Menendez and our New Jersey federal elected officials,” Bhalla said.
“I thank Senator Menendez for hearing my continued feedback over the past several months, as he fought tooth and nail in the Senate to help secure this added resource for our restaurants, bars and eateries – the heart and soul of our community.”
According to a study by the National Restaurant Association, 110,000 restaurants and bars have been closed temporarily or for good, as of December.
The study also found that up to eight million restaurant employees were laid off or furloughed during the height of the lockdowns last year.
In New Jersey alone, 30 percent of restaurants have been closed permanently or temporarily, impacting over 350,000 jobs.
“We stand here today, a year after we were forced to close due to the effects of a virus that crippled our state and our nation. The impact that COVID-19 had on the hospitality industry was devastating and life changing. There was nothing that prepared us for the challenges that needed to be faced,” explained Jeanne Cretella, a member of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association.
“But, what was apparent from the very beginning, was how fortunate we are in New Jersey to have someone like Senator Mendez who recognized that our industry needed and deserved special attention. His determination to pass robust and targeted funding for restaurants and bars will ensure establishments have access to much-needed federal relief.”
The ARP established a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is based on the Restaurants Act, which was co-sponsored by Menendez.
The program will provide up to $10 million in grants to eligible restaurants, bars and eateries.
The funds can be used to cover the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other upgrades to protect customers and staff from COVID, in addition to payroll, mortgage or rent, supplies, utilities, paid sick leave and other operational expenses.
In general, restaurants will receive grants that equal the difference between their 2019 and 2020 gross receipts.
In an effort to target funding to the smallest small businesses and minority-owned businesses, $5 billion is set aside for restaurants with 2019 gross receipts of $500,000 or less.
Additionally, for the first 21 days that the program is open, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is required to prioritize applications from businesses owned by women, veterans and those in disadvantaged communities.
Dave Carney, the owner of the Madison, also weighed in on the situation.
“Like many other restaurants in Hoboken and New Jersey, we’ve been hit hard by the pandemic. This funding could not come at a better time, and will help us as we survive until we get back to full capacity,” Carney stated.
“We’ll utilize this grant funding to pay rent, staff, and help make up for lost revenue as we overcome the pandemic for good. Thank you to Senator Menendez for championing this funding in the Senate, and to Mayor Bhalla for advocating for our restaurants and helping keep our community safe.”
Last week, Menendez and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) provided a comprehensive breakdown of American Rescue Plan funding in New Jersey, including $27,201,022.91 for the Mile Square City.
Other electeds in attendance included County Commissioner Anthony Romano (D-5), as well as Councilwomen Tiffanie Fisher, Jen Giattino, and Emily Jabbour.