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Money help available for Utah restaurant owners who predict big summer

Restaurants across Utah can receive additional help from the U.S. Small Business Administration starting today. (PHOTO: Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY — A nationwide small-business program launched Monday aimed at helping restaurants still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund has more than $28 billion available to restaurants, food stands, food trucks, caterers and bars. 

Restaurant owners think the best is yet to come

Here in Utah, most restaurant owners said they’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

“I think this summer is going to be a very strong one,” said Brooks Kirchheimer, owner of Hearth and Hill in Kimball Junction. “People want to get out. People want to go eat again. People want to socialize.”

He said restaurants everywhere will benefit from loosened pandemic restrictions, which should allow for an increase in seating capacity.

“We probably got rid of 20 to 25 percent of the furniture and all of our barstools,” he said.

In fact, he said his restaurant is already seeing more locals dining in. And the customers are staying longer than normal.

“We’ve seen diners sit for longer than before, just because they’re excited to socialize, see their friends [and] catch-up,” says Kirchheimer.

Up to $10 million in funds available

Matthew Harris, who oversees food and beverage at The St. Regis Deer Valley, said the likely return of travel and festivals in the summer will help restaurants, although most can’t afford to simply coast until then.

“As restaurants and hotels, we’re not in a position to just kind of wait around. You have to think outside the box,” he said.

Officials with the Small Business Association hope their initiative will help a number of small restaurants bridge the gap until summer. 

A single business can receive up to $10 million or $5 million per location. The amount of money they qualify for is based on the difference between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic gross receipts.

Those interested in applying can create a profile at the Restaurant Revitalization Portal.