Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Policy name: Restaurant Bridge Fund
Overview: The local Washington, D.C., government has opened applications for restaurants to receive up to $50,000 each in COVID-19-related financial relief.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Population: 0.7 million
Food policy category: Food services
Program goals: To provide financial relief to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
How it works: In November, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a $100 million Bridge Fund with money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support local businesses and workers in the hospitality, entertainment, and retail sectors. Restaurants will receive $35 million, retailers will receive $15 million, entertainment businesses will receive $20 million, and hotels will receive $30 million.
The Restaurant Bridge Fund awards competitive grants to eligible food service establishments that have experienced significant distress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligibility requirements include:
- Must be a full-service restaurant with a restaurant license or a food service provider such as a bakery, cafe, bar/tavern/distillery/winery with a tavern license, a food truck, caterer, or a cafeteria
- Currently open and operating
- Maximum of $10 million annual revenue in 2019 and/or $7.5 million in revenue as of September 30, 2020
- Demonstrate a 25 percent decrease in revenue resulting from the pandemic
Applications from eligible restaurants were open on December 7 and will be received until 5:00p.m. on December 28. Notifications will be made in January 2021, and funds will be distributed shortly thereafter.
At least 700 grants will be awarded in increments ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. Funding will support general operating expenses and costs related to COVID-19 preparations.
Progress to date: Applications are still under consideration.
Why it is important: Many businesses in Washington, D.C., and across the country have suffered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants had to close their doors to in-person dining for several months, causing many staff members to lose their jobs. When restaurants were able to re-open, they could only do so at limited capacity, which limited their revenue, and they had to put enhanced health and safety measures in place, which also cost money. At the end of September, more than 100,000 restaurants in America had permanently closed due to COVID-19.
The aid from the Restaurant Bridge Fund will help food service establishments stay in business while also supporting employees who need the income from their food-service jobs.
Program/Policy initiated: The restaurant applications opened on December 7 and will remain open through December 28.
Point of contact:
Office of Mayor Muriel Bowser
Phone: (202) 727-2643
Similar practices: Restaurant relief grants have also been provided by the nonprofit ROAR NY (Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants) and the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF), among others.
Evaluation: The program has not been evaluated as funding has not yet been awarded to restaurants.
- New York City Regained 11,000 Restaurant Jobs Last Month. Now Those — and More — Could Disappear (The City)
- Restaurant Closings Top 110,000 With Industry in ‘Free Fall’ (Bloomberg)
- Restaurant Employment Recovery is in Danger of Stalling (National Restaurant Foundation)
- Restaurant Revolution: How The Industry Is Fighting To Stay Alive (Forbes)
- Bridge Fund (Government of the District of Columbia)
- D.C. Launches $100 Million Grant Program for Hard-Hit Businesses (Washington Post)
- DC Mayor Opens Applications for $35 Million Restaurant Bridge Fund (Metro Weekly)
- DC Offers Another Round of Relief to Restaurants (FoodTank)
- District of Columbia Restaurant Bridge Fund Program Application (Government of the District of Columbia)
- Financial Aid for NYC Restaurant Workers (ROAR NY)
- H.R. 748 (U.S. Government)
- Mayor Bowser Announces $100 Million “Bridge Fund” to Support Hospitality, Entertainment, and Retail Industries (Government of the District of Columbia)
- Pandemic Forces a Reckoning for Restaurants Coping with Capacity Limits and New Consumer Habits (CNBC)
- Restaurant Bridge Fund Application Guide (Government of the District of Columbia)
- Restaurant Bridge Fund Application is Open (WDVM)
- Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (National Restaurant Association)