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Small Business News and Notes

Restaurants Act – $ for you?

 February 13, 2021

By  Jana Hassett

Restaurants –

The $25 Billion Restaurants Act is getting closer to passage. As it stands now, $10 million will be available to small restaurants and will be voted on the week of February 22nd.

The version currently being discussed will:

  • Be available alongside the PPP, EIDL and the Employee Retention Tax Credits, though any PPP loans already received will be subtracted from the eligible grant total for any individual business.
  • Eligible businesses include foodservice and drinking establishments like restaurants, bars, caterers, breweries, taprooms, and tasting rooms that are not part of an affiliated restaurant group with more than 20 locations.  Participants cannot be publicly traded and there are limits on private equity firms.  Participants also cannot currently be an applicant for the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant Program.
  • Grants can be spent on payroll and benefits up to $100,000 a year, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies (including PPE and cleaning products), food and beverages, supplier costs, operational expenses and paid sick leave.
  • The covered period is from Feb. 15, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.

The Restaurants Act prioritizes socioeconomically disadvantages businesses, with businesses owned by women, veterans or socially/economically disadvantaged groups prioritized in the first 21 days of grant applications.  Additionally, $5 Billion of the $25 Billion total is reserved for restaurants with less than $500,000 in gross receipts in 2019.  Any funds leftover after the first 60 days of grant eligibility will be opened to larger businesses.

Watch for updated information the week of Feb. 22nd.  And then check with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in Utah for how to apply.

Raise The Wage Act Updates –

There is still an effort to Raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour but the proposals currently under discussion would eliminate the tipped wage, which allows restaurant employers to factor gratuities into wages.  It would also phase out subminimum wages for adolescent workers and employees with disabilities.  The minimum wage would not just jump to $15.00.  It would be phased in over 4yrs and be competed by 2025, probably not what many workers expect.

We’ll see what the Utah Dept. of Employment shares as it comes to fruition.

Parmesan Cheese –

Look for Parmesan Cheese prices to increase dramatically ($1.00 to $2.50 a pound)  Retail and food service demand dropped due to COVID-19.  Now headed up - it takes 10 months to age and milk prices have risen as well. Another item that will not return until 2022.

Panera Brand –

The Panera Brands are testing ghost kitchens and mobile kitchens.  CEO Niren Chaudhary reported his companies are looking at off-premise oriented offerings.  “The future of food service is in asset-light models” with small café and eating areas. 

That’s what I’m seeing for many drive-thru operations – new franchisees will have two drive-up lanes and eating outside in front of the building with window service.  These will lead to smaller staff operations and smaller store footprints based on finger foods and hand-held items.

Restaurants

That does not bode well for the 372,000 restaurant and bar jobs lost in the U.S. in December alone.  Cities and counties will need to review their Food Truck rules to offer citizens and tourists the food they seek.

Until next week - - -

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