Some much-needed relief may be heading to the pockets of struggling restaurant owners now that President Joe Biden has signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill aimed at stimulating the economy and ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
Antonio Fregoso has seen his family business' revenue drop down to 10% of what it used to since the pandemic started.
"I can’t believe it, I can't believe it,” says Fregoso, owner of La Vecindad in Hillcrest, as he reminisces on a tough year. “It's been hard.”
After a year of unprecedented losses, the pandemic has created an existential crisis for many restaurants.
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“A lot of our communities have been dramatically decreased with students,” said Tony Dellamano, chief operating officer at Woodstock’s Pizza. “We have just been pivoting.”
Woodstock's Pizza in the San Diego State area is employed mostly by college students and its revenue depends mostly on Aztec Warriors who frequent the shop.
“Woodstock's Pizza has been in business for 40 years,” said Dellamano. “It’s been here in San Diego State for 35 years. We are a legendary college town pizzeria.”
For these local restaurants, the signing of the COVID relief bill into law comes at a time when they need it most.
“Along with some of our peers, we’ve spent considerable dollars on our outdoor patios, and other items within the restaurant in the last year in response to all the changes in mandates,” said Dellamano.
The bill will provide $28.6 billion in relief to foodservice establishments devastated by the pandemic.
The small business administration will review applications and calculate grants based on the business’ lost revenue. The money will go towards things like payroll, benefits, supplies, rent, and debt.
Grants will be capped at $10 million for restaurant groups and $5 million for individual venues.
“Everything helps, every dollar helps,” said Dellamano. “Especially from the planning and anxiety standpoint. You don't know what's going to happen the next day."