$ 60 billion in additional funding could be the boost the restaurant industry needs


HANCOCK COUNTY, Mississippi (WLOX) – More money could be coming to independent restaurants.

In March, the American Rescue Plan Act was passed, which included $ 28.6 billion in grants for restaurants, food trucks and bars. Now the senators are working to reintroduce this law with more money, and this could be the solution to the problems of some restaurateurs.

“It would really help if we could get a grant that wouldn’t have to be repaid,” restaurant owner J’s Louis Fouquet III said.

“We can’t afford to take another loan,” said Melvin Barnes, owner of Cuz’s Oyster Bar and Grill.

Both restaurateurs said they were feeling more impact from COVID-19 as they worked to get back to normal. While staffing has been a problem, Fouquet and Barnes now agree that finances go beyond that.

“Food prices, ground meat, steaks, ribs, everything is going up,” Fouquet said.

This is one of the reasons the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce is encouraging everyone to push Congress to pass the additional $ 60 billion in grants under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, introduced in part by Senator Roger Wicker.

“It’s an incredibly vulnerable industry,” said executive director Tish Williams. “The restaurant industry has had so many challenges because of the pandemic, so we ask all of our citizens to join us in asking for support for this legislation.”

Both Cuz’s Oyster Bar and Grill and J’s Restaurant have had to change or remove certain things from their menus due to supply shortages and higher prices.

“Payroll monitoring. Track the cost of food, the prices of food, ”Barnes said. “The availability of food is just amazing.

“Mayonnaise,” Fouquet said. “You wouldn’t think of something as simple as mayonnaise, even that has increased, almost double. It’s crazy.”

Although loans were made available through the Paycheck Protection Program, Fouquet said they helped him but put him further behind.

“This money is all gone,” Fouquet said. “So while this SBA loan has helped, we have to pay it back starting next year. So it’s a financial concern for me so if we can get this grant I will do whatever they need me to do.

Barnes said he takes care of his employees and everything is going well, the grant would be a boost to do so.

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