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‘This is going to be critical,’ Cantrell urges New Orleans foodservice leaders to apply for federal aid

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Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 4:43 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Pigeon Catering and Events team prepares for a weekend filled with events. Its events board is mostly covered with events for Saturday.

“We stay busy but nothing like the business we’re used to,” said owner Dean Pigeon.

Pigeon says it is a 180 from where they were last year.

“Spring is big for us,” Pigeon said. “One after another, canceled, canceled, canceled, within three days. Within three days we had to let everyone go.”

He was able to bring some staff members back by using PPP loans. Mayor LaToya Cantrell wants him and other business owners in the foodservice industry to apply for the SBA’s “Restaurant Revitalization Fund.”

“This is going to be critical,” said Cantrell. “This is the largest bucket of resources that will be made available to our restaurant industry from the federal government.”

Eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, food trucks, caterers, bakeries, and any entity with at least 33% of sales coming from food and beverage. Applicants will need to verify tax information including IRS Form 4506-T and income documentation.

“Every restaurant in the country is going to be going after these dollars. These are not dollars the city can go get for you,” said Jeff Schwartz, Director for the Office of Economic Development for the Mayor’s Office. “This is something a business owner will have to go get for themselves, for their workers and their community.”

For the first 21 days, the SBA will prioritize funding to businesses owned by women, veterans, minorities, and other disadvantaged owners.

As part of the mayor’s coronavirus task force, there is a case management system, with this group, Cantrell has the team visit different neighborhoods, encouraging business owners to sign up.

“It is going to take, I’m convinced, that level of outreach to ensure our businesses know that this is for them,” Cantrell said. “To know that no they are not left out of the equation at all.”

Pigeon says even as business improves; he will see what other resources are available, “we’re going to see what they offer and of course, if it can help us, long term.”

The application portal opens Monday at restaurants.sba.gov.

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