MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — By one count, more than 100,000 restaurants nationwide have closed since the start of the pandemic, and part of the latest stimulus bill will let restaurants apply for up to $5 million each.
Restaurant owners can get grants equaling the revenue they lost during the pandemic. The American Rescue Plan sets aside more than $28 billion nationwide.
“It is just a constant kind of mess when we are doing the best we can and our hands are still tied because we can’t. Our capacity is still not where it needs to be,” Owner of Pop Pop’s Pit BBQ Joseph Fuqua said.
Like many small businesses across the Grand Strand, Fuqua said his business has struggled through the pandemic. He said one of the biggest struggles he has had to deal with is staffing shortage.
“It’s another way to try to get more staff to try and make sure that we have the proper supplies. With all the COVID stuff, everything that we are using is disposable so it’s a lot more expensive than just washing dishes,” Fuqua said.
But the first challenge was the shutdown. Restaurants in South Carolina weren’t allowed to have in-person dining for weeks when the pandemic started. Then, there was a slow tourism season.
“Since COVID hit, we are doing a third of what we should be doing business-wise and we are just treading water,” Fuqua said.
Now restaurant owners can apply for federal grants to cover the revenue losses. Fuqua said he plans to register for the fund as soon as he can.
“We are just kind of gambling that we can make it through this stretch. We aren’t getting any breaks from anybody to help us get through this mess. The tax revenue, we haven’t gotten any tax breaks from the government, from the state, any financial help at all,” Fuqua said.
Fuqua also added that this grant may be one of the reason his business stays open. “It’s going to be hopefully one of the reasons why we can stay in business. We are struggling so much with help and just kind of the attitude. It has been very hard. We are going to need all the help we can get.”
The Small Business Administration will accept applications until the money runs out. For more information on how to apply, visit the Small Business Administration website.