Cuyahoga County Creates $1.2 Million Grant Fund Specifically for Local Restaurants

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click to enlarge Cuyahoga County Creates $1.2 Million Grant Fund Specifically for Local Restaurants
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Cuyahoga County today announced a $1.2 million grant fund for locally owned restaurants designed to bring help to an industry that has already been hit hard during the pandemic and still faces a long battle through the winter months.

The deadline for restaurants to apply is Friday, Dec 11 by 5 p.m.

Applications open at 2:30 p.m. today.

“Our locally owned restaurants are a key part of our community and our culture," county executive Armond Budish said today. "Many of them have experienced terrible losses or closed forever because of the virus. Several restaurants that have applied for and received funding earlier on in the pandemic have exhausted their funding assistance. We are providing an additional $1.2 million in grant funding to help our restaurants catch up on unpaid rent and utilities and any COVID safety related costs they’ve incurred.”

The fund is technically an extension of the county's Small Business Stabilization Fund, and while restaurants who applied in round three for that help may also apply for the specific restaurant fund grants, they will only receive money from one or the other, not both.

The Ohio Restaurant Association yesterday sent a letter to Congress asking for a bipartisan effort to deliver a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans to an industry that has suffered 20-70% sales losses since March.

Safety measures instituted to help stop the spread of the coronavirus have also severely trimmed profit margins for restaurants already operating on the edge. A warm Cleveland summer and the first round of PPP provided some relief, but the pandemic has already caused the permanent closure of iconic places like Sokolowski's and Lola Bistro, not to mention a string of smaller establishments.

While a handful of restaurants and bars have ignored the state's public health rules, the vast majority have operated by the book.

Still, demand has naturally and understandably dropped.

As the U.S. sees unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, health experts maintain that indoor dining is a high-risk opportunity for transmission. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults who tested positive for the coronavirus are “twice as likely” to have dined at a restaurant two weeks before reporting symptoms.

Some owners have chosen to shutter temporarily through the end of Cuyahoga County's stay-at-home advisory, or even through the spring, while others have reverted to take-out only as the unprecedented virus surge continues.

The news is mostly bad and could get worse: An Ohio Restaurant Association survey found 50% of restaurants expected to close permanently by the end of winter without further assistance.
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