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Restaurant revitalization relief in sight for struggling businesses

Newswatch 16's Carmella Mataloni spoke to business owners in the Poconos who say the relief is a long time coming.

MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — Federal money is coming to give relief to restaurant owners across the state who lost revenue because of the pandemic.

The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, authorized by the March stimulus bill, will soon start taking applications for grants designed to help restaurant owners who lost money during the pandemic.

It's relief many restaurant owners in the Poconos have been waiting for.

"It's super important. I've had to do so many changes just to get by with everything that finances are; it's definitely important," said Veronica Murray, owner of the Cinder Inn near East Stroudsburg.

These funds can be used for payroll, mortgage, and rent payments, debt services, utilities, maintenance, outdoor seating, PPE, and cleaning supplies.

"There was just a lot of added expense, plus the expenses that had to be paid when we were closed—insurance, water, electricity. That all had to be paid even though you were bringing nothing in," said Angeline Gilroy at Little Angel's Cafe and Catering in Stroudsburg.

"The biggest finance for us was to-go containers. The price for them was crazy. We put in domes just to try and make ends meet. I had to get a POS system we never had before; that was like 10 grand. I had to get an ID scanner that the law required us to do to-go drinks; that was 1,000 bucks," Murray said.

Once the application process opens, restaurant owners can apply, but the first three weeks, priority will go to businesses owned by women and veterans.

"That's exciting," Gilroy said. "I had tried before, last year when it first came out, and all the funds were gone before they got to me. so knowing that, that's definitely exciting."

There's no set date on when applications will start to be accepted.

Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.

More details are available here.