Restaurants, bars get federal relief in $1.9T coronavirus package

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St. Joseph Post

Restaurants and bars devastated by restrictions imposed during
the coronavirus pandemic will soon receive help from the federal government.

Eating and drinking establishments can apply for grants under
the new $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief and economic stimulus plan pushed by
President Joe Biden and approved by Congress.

Regional Director Rebecca Lobina with the Northwest Missouri
State University Small Business Development Center says the numbers presented to
the center by bars closed when governments worried they would spread COVID-19
are astonishing.

“Some of the percentages were, like, 4,000%,” Lobina says
during an appearance on the KFEQ Hotline. “Not 400; 4,000% on the decrease from
one year to the next. So, it was like a phenomenal amount of funding that they

The federal program is not available yet, but Lobina suggests
restaurant and bar owners begin preparation now. Owners will need a Dun and
Bradstreet number and a SAM number from the Small Business Administration. The
grants will be based on gross receipts, comparing 2019 business to business in

Lobina says the federal grants could help many survive. Still,
Lobina says eating and drinking establishments learned a lot through the
pandemic, such as the importance of communication with customers, such as
informing customers of their hours or simple things such as how to order and
pick up curbside.

“They started learning, if they didn’t already know, they
learned quickly that you have to communicate that or your customers get
frustrated and leave.”

Lobina says the toll on some business owners has been devastating.

“People are crying on the phone,” Lobina recalls about owners
calling the Small Business Development Center. “People sound desperate, because
they are. Because things didn’t bounce back as quickly as people hoped that
they would, even when they were back open. It’s hard. It’s been really hard for
people and it continues to be hard for some.”