CNMI SBDC ready to assist CNMI restaurants

Posted on May 14 2021


Nicole Babauta

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was established by the American Rescue Plan Act to provide funds to restaurants and other eligible businesses to help them stay on business, possibly re-hire furloughed employees, and reimburse expenses incurred for the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 at their place of business. In the CNMI, the Small Business Development Center is helping facilitate application and release of funds.

The program aims to provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. The minimum award is $1,000 and since RRF is not a loan, recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.

“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was authorized under the ARPA funding. This will help to provide grant funding to eligible small businesses that are in the restaurant industry…We do recommend everyone to come in to consult, ask, inquire and apply for this funding…approval is a case by case basis so we do recommend everyone to come in with their 2019 and 2020 tax forms as well as ownership documents,” CNMI SBDC direct Nicole Babauta said.

“With how much a restaurant business will get really depends on what year the restaurant opened if a restaurant opened before Jan. 1 of 2019, the amount that they would receive in a grant is the loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

RRF-eligible companies are businesses that are not permanently closed and its primary business purpose is to serve food or drink. Restaurants, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars. Bakeries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts), brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts), breweries and/or microbreweries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts), wineries and distilleries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts), inns (onsite sales of food and beverage to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts), and licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products

As for computation, Babauta said that there are a couple of ways to on how to compute the possible funding that an establishment will get. “They would just take their 2020 revenue minus their 2019 revenue, and that amount is what is the grant is going to be for now for restaurants that started in 2019. They can either use that calculation or there’s another calculation where they take how much they’ve spent on the business, minus their revenue, and then that is the difference.”

“Now it is important to know that revenue does not include the Paycheck Protection Program in that calculation. So if a restaurant received the first or second draw of the PPP, that does go into their final calculation on how much they’d actually received. Then the final calculation is if a business started in 2020, they would subtract the amount that they’ve spent on eligible business expenses which there’s a long list of what’s eligible from the revenue they received at that time and then that’s the amount that the grant will be for including if they received the PPP,” she added.

RRF can be used first in business expenses such as payroll costs (including sick leave), business utility payments, maintenance expenses, business supplies, (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), and business food and beverage expenses (including raw materials). Covered supplier cost and business operating expenses such as insurance, marketing fees, licenses, legal, POS equipment etc. Second, construction expenses such as construction for outdoor seating but expansion costs are ineligible. Lastly, payment of business debts-mortgage obligation both principal and interest (does not include any prepayment or principal interest) and business debt service.

For more information, contact CNMI Small Business Development Center director Nicole Babauta or Maxine Laszlo at (670) 234-5498 ext. 6888.

Bea Cabrera | Correspondent
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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