(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) launched the application period for the District’s $35 million Restaurant Bridge Fund to provide competitive grants of up to $50,000 for restaurants and food service establishments grappling with the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Restaurant Bridge Fund is part of The Bridge Fund, a $100 million initiative aimed at providing financial relief to the hotel, restaurant, retail, and entertainment sectors.
“Our restaurants and other food establishments are essential to small business community, employing our residents and driving our local economy,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know times are particularly tough as our restaurants continue to make sacrifices and implement creative service adjustments. Through the Restaurant Bridge Fund, we can help more of these business and their employees make it to the other side of the pandemic.”
According to the District’s Chief Financial Officer, the District had 34,300 jobs in the food service industry in September 2020, down from 56,833 in September 2019. The loss of 21,533 jobs represents a 38.6% drop. Earlier this year, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the “Business Support Grants Emergency Amendment Act of 2020,” which authorized up to $100 million from the federal CARES Act to provide COVID-19 related relief to businesses. In November, Mayor Bowser announced The Bridge Fund to strategically invest in businesses and employees in the hospitality, entertainment, and retail sectors to help mitigate the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on workers and businesses. The District began accepting applications for the $30 million Hotel Bridge Fund last month.
“In the midst of a global pandemic and a local hospitality recession, our employers need a bridge of financial support to keep employees working,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “The Restaurant Bridge Fund is our latest investment in the businesses and people that make our city vibrant. Our goal is to preserve jobs that our residents rely on and ensure businesses can thrive beyond this pandemic.”
The Restaurant Bridge Fund will competitively distribute at least 700 competitive grants for eligible businesses. Eligible businesses include full-service restaurants, limited-service restaurants, and fast food restaurants. Food service providers are also eligible, including bars and taverns with a tavern license, wineries, breweries, or distilleries with a tavern license, bakeries, cafes, delicatessens, coffee shops, vending trucks or carts, food trucks, food courts, caterers, and cafeterias. The District will also set aside $5.25 million (15%) of the funds for Resident-Owned Businesses (ROB), Small Business Enterprises (SBE), and businesses that are at least 51% owned by economically disadvantaged individuals, or at least 51% owned by a woman or a majority of women. The grant will support general operational expenses (rent/mortgage/docking expenses, payroll, insurance, fuel for mobile vendors, and/or utilities), and expenses incurred related to winterization or COVID-19 preparation.
DMPED will feature a panel discussion in its Recovery Weekly Check-In on Tuesday, December 8, at 4 pm on Channel 16 and streaming on Twitter and Facebook. DMPED will also host three information sessions for businesses this week. Prospective applicants are encouraged to attend. The registration link for the information sessions can be found at coronavirus.dc.gov/bridgefund. The application deadline is Monday, December 28, 2020. The Retail Bridge Fund and Entertainment Bridge Fund will be launched in the coming weeks.
Since the COVID-19 public health emergency began in March, the District has made available more than $45 million to support small and local businesses and nonprofits through various funding opportunities, including the DC Small Business Microgrant Program, the Ward 7 and 8 Microgrant Program, the Small Business Resiliency Fund, DC Child Care Provider Relief Fund, the Legacy Business Supplemental Microgrant Program, and the Streateries Winter Ready (in partnership with Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture). For more information on the Bridge Fund, visit coronavirus.dc.gov/bridgefund. Bridge Fund related questions can be emailed to [email protected].