Reed seeks more federal aid for local restaurants

CRANSTON, RI (WPRI) – With restaurants being one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed is seeking to secure additional funding for them.

On Tuesday, Reed and local restaurant owners called for more money to be added to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

Reed said he was working on bipartisan legislation that would allow the Small Business Administration (SBA) to distribute funds to restaurants that previously applied for federal assistance but received none.

Under the American Rescue Plan Act, Reed said the RRF — a program he helped create — has provided more than $28 billion in federal funding to restaurant owners and the hospitality industry.

Nearly 450 restaurants in Rhode Island have received more than $106 million in assistance, according to Reed. He said the state’s restaurant industry is one of his biggest sources of jobs, which is why he’s pushing for more funding.

“Rhode Island isn’t just the ocean state, it’s a food state,” Reed said. “Our food economy is one of our main sources of employment and productivity, and it is well known throughout the United States and even around the world.”

Supporters of Reed’s proposal said if more money was added to the RRF, local restaurants would be able to rehire or retain staff, add outdoor seating and cover all pandemic-related losses.

According to the SBA, more than 270,000 applications have been submitted for the RRF program nationwide, but only 23% of restaurants have received assistance in Rhode Island.

Gladys T. Hensley