New Orleans area restaurants apply for piece of $28.6B Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 10:19 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Now packed with hungry customers at Morrow’s Restaurant, co-owner and executive chef, Lenora Chong remembers the exact opposite during the pandemic.

“There were days when I was very discouraged and sat on the floor and said wow how are we going to make it,” said Chong.

With in-person plates and drinks in high demand again though, she says they’re still trying to get back to a comfortable revenue level.

“Take out, curbside whatever it is the new phase called for we hustled, we hustled very hard… we need the capital to revitalize it’s been a tough year with the pandemic and all,” said Chong.

She’s one of the thousands across the country who applied for a piece of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. It took some time for the Small Business Association to roll out the portal after passage of the American rescue plan, but once she had her documents together, Chong said she simply hit “apply”.

“I was expecting it to be a little more difficult, but it was quite easy very streamlined,” said Chong.

“We don’t know how much demand there’s going to be, but we think it’s going to be pretty significant,” said Stan Harris.

In the days leading up, Stan Harris with the Louisiana Restaurant Association says they were reminding and encouraging local restaurants to be ready: ask questions now, so there are none when the application opens.

“We feel like this is going to be another lifeline much like the two rounds of PPP were and we also think it will be a huge demand for it… it’s a great program. I imagine we’ll be going back to congress and trying to make a bipartisan appeal that if this money runs out very quickly,” said Harris.

Chong’s application will likely be on top of the stack as applications from women, veteran, and minority owned businesses will be considered in the first three weeks.

“My opinion but it’s a male-dominated industry and to allow us to have first access means a lot. It means that we have a greater chance of getting vital funding,” said Chong.

After fighting so hard throughout the pandemic, she says she’s ready for help and a step up.

“I feel stronger, I feel like I can survive almost anything… it’s going to take a collective effort to revitalize and get our restaurant in tourism industry back the way it was,” said Chong.

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