CLEVELAND — Federal money granted to businesses from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is providing much-needed help for many local businesses throughout Northeast Ohio and around the country.
While people are slowly making their way back to dining in, restaurant owners have a lot on their plate.
"If we were open full-board today, assuming the demand was there, I'm not sure we could offer the level of service our customers are accustomed to," Nick Kostis, owner of Pickwick & Frolic in downtown Cleveland, said.
Pickwick & Frolic is a restaurant that doubles as a comedy club. At full capacity, it can seat 900 people.
"We can't operate at even 50 percent of previous business," Kostis told 3News. "We are in dire need of support."
Of the business' 36 years open, the last year and a half has been the most challenging.
"We lost cash. $950,000," Kostis said. "We just burned through it, just trying to keep the lights on."
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund--which offers up to $10 million per company and $5 million per physical location--can help businesses catch up on bills and bring employees back.
"We have needs," Kostis said. "We have rent."
"[This will help] allow us to be more attractive of a location for benefits and paid time off," Gabriel Zeller, owner of the Avo Modern Mexico restaurant, added.
Zeller opened the restaurant in January and said the money can help keep his doors open.
"It would help us attract qualified people and help us pay off some initial start-up debt," he said.
While the opportunity for aid is available, there is one stipulation keeping owners on edge.
"I hope that it can cover everyone who is in need of this," Kostis wondered. "That's the big question, and that's what everybody is hanging onto."
Restaurants, bars, caterers, and food trucks are eligible to apply, amongst others. Small businesses owned by women, veterans and those with social and economic disadvantages have priority in the application process.
According to the White House, over 186,000 businesses have applied since the application portal opened Monday.