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Prince George’s County to distribute relief money to restaurants

A $3.3 million program to support Prince George’s County restaurants opened to applicants this week. The COVID-19 Restaurant Resiliency Program will distribute grants of up $25,000 to restaurants in the county, as well as to food trucks, farmer’s market stands and catering establishments licensed by the county.

The program, which will accept applications through Jan. 22, aims to “promote long-term sustainability and resiliency of businesses operations, support COVID-19 safety measures and support businesses operating at reduced capacity,” according to its website, restaurantresiliency.princegeorgescountymd.gov. It is an extension of an earlier program that distributed $7.8 million of state and county funding to 346 food service providers.

This latest funding comes from $50 million in restaurant relief that Gov. Larry Hogan allocated to Maryland counties at the end of last year.

The model the county is using to distribute these funds is the same as the one it used to award the previous batch of relief.

“By the time we got to doing the Restaurant Resiliency Fund at the end of last year, we’d been through a couple of other different business relief funds and learned a lot from those, and so structured the Restaurant Resiliency Fund based on that, and we’re going to stick with what works,” said Angie Rodgers, deputy chief administrative officer of economic development for Prince George’s County.

Prince George’s is one of the Maryland jurisdictions that completely shut down indoor dining in December and were subsequently sued by local restaurant owners. Judge John Davey upheld the dining ban in Prince George’s County, which is scheduled to be lifted Jan. 16.

Baltimore city, which banned indoor and outdoor dining in December, established a $6.5 million dollar grant fund to support restaurants in late November, which has since closed to applicants. The other two counties that closed indoor dining, Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties, have also offered similar relief programs in recent months.

Prince George’s aims to support both restaurants and their workers with this funding. Over 150,000 county residents — many of whom worked for small businesses — lost their jobs due to the pandemic, Rodgers said, and a third of that number haven’t been able to return to work.

“Prince George’s County residents have been hurt as well, and so the more we can help our businesses bounce back this year and get folks reemployed, that’s going to be our focus,” she said.

Grants received from the COVID-19 Restaurant Resiliency Program will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and can be used towards a number of COVID-related expenses, such as personal protective equipment, outdoor seating, delivery services and operational costs.

To be eligible, a restaurant must have taken a financial loss due to the pandemic, must be in good standing with the state, must be for-profit and cannot currently be in bankruptcy or litigation; restaurants that have taken advantage of other county relief funds and grant programs are eligible to apply. If a restaurant that is currently closed receives a grant, it must reopen within 30 days of receiving the funds.

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