RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – More than 6,600 restaurants and bars across North Carolina asked for federal funds to help keep their doors open during the pandemic, but around 40 percent of those businesses did not receive any money before the program ran dry.
Now, restaurant owners and organizations are pushing lawmakers to restart the program that became a lifeline for many struggling businesses.
Kim Hammer has poured everything she has into her dessert bar, Bittersweet.
“Everything that I had saved for my son‘s college fund, everything that I’ve saved for any kind of retirement. I was supposed to get married in May 2020, so the wedding fund,” Hammer said.
But it’s not enough in a pandemic that’s rattled restaurants everywhere.
“If you could compare this pandemic to a hurricane and it came in and it leveled our industry,” said Hammer.
She had hope earlier this year through a substantial grant, part of the federal Restaurant Revitalization Funds.
More than $600.000,000 came to North Carolina restaurants, the money never arrived at Bittersweet after out-of-state lawsuits redirected some of the promised money.
Hammer said, “It feels as if we’re back at year one, struggling.”
The bar is one of 4,000 businesses in the state that didn’t receive any funds.
Both the Independent Restaurant Coalition and North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association are calling on federal lawmakers to help those who didn’t receive anything the first time around.
A current bill to replenish the program now sits in the US Senate, however, it has not moved forward since being introduced this summer.
“We’ve got to demand policymakers find a way to replenish this fund, we’ve got to get those grant dollars in the hands of business owners,” NC Restaurant and Lodging Association president Lynn Minges said.