Restaurant fund program closure announced ahead of SBA administrator's Hampton Roads visit

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Posted at 9:27 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 22:54:12-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Tuesday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabel Guzman will be coming to Hampton Roads.

This comes after officials announced the closure of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) program, which has provided billions of dollars to small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

One of the businesses who received funds from the program is Captain Groovy’s Grill and Raw Bar in Norfolk.

Sandy White has owned the restaurant for nearly 14 years.

“It means a lot,” White told News 3. “We’re about the food. We’re about the community.”

But of those years, 2020 was a different groove for White.

“It was close to devastating,” she said. “I had gone through reserve accounts, and we were down to the nitty gritty when they made us close. We would discuss plans of how we were going to exit the situation. That’s how dire it was.”

Having to adapt to new strategies, including takeout, White also found relief through the RRF program.

“It’s paying my payroll, keeping my employees employed,” she said.

The SBA reports more than 100,000 restaurants were awarded $28.6 billion, with the average award being $283,000.

Underserved populations got $18 billion in grant awards, including $7.5 billion for women-owned businesses and $1 billion for veteran-owned businesses.

“It has had tremendous impacts on restaurants in Hampton Roads,” Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads Executive Director Jim Carroll said.

Carroll added the program does have a drawback.

“Some restaurants were unable to get loans or get the grants through the program,” he said.

Both he and White believe more federal help could be beneficial.

“They spend almost a year with no revenues coming in whatsoever,” he said. “We’ve had restaurants come up and ask what other assistance is out there.”

“There’s still businesses hurting that are very profitable, thriving businesses before COVID,” White added. “They need help. They still need help.”

SBA officials say the program's application platform will remain open for the next two weeks for applicants to check their status, address payment corrections or ask questions. Access to the platform will be disabled on July 14.

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