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Georgia restaurants continue to face obstacles after surviving pandemic

The Senate has yet to decide if it will replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

ATLANTA — Thousands of Georgia restaurants are still waiting for the financial help they need to stay afloat while U.S. Senators debate whether or not to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

During her visit to Atlanta this week, the head of the Small Business Administration vowed that the Biden Administration is doing all it can to help.

It’s been one month since the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund that would supply $42-billion for the COVID relief fund that ran dry last year.

Senators have to agree and they’ve taken no action.

“If there was additional funding we would jump on it,” Lorna Heid, owner of Independent Grounds Café in Kennesaw said.

Heid is one of the lucky ones who got a slice of the revitalization fund before it ran dry. Her café has survived the pandemic and a move that put her out of business for several months. But, struggles continue.

“We’re still working on getting the foot traffic that we need,” Heid said. 

A survey by the National Association of Independent Businesses found nearly half of the restaurant owners questioned feel they won’t survive the next six months unless Congress replenishes the revitalization fund. Two-thirds of those owners say they need a financial boost to pay rent, utilities, and suppliers.

Inflation is another major issue as well, along with staffing shortages brought on by the pandemic.

While Congress wrestles over funding issues, Small Business Administration head Isabelle Casillas Guzman said part of her focus is getting people back to work.

“Child care is still an issue,” Guzman said. “We want to contribute to providing more supply, affordable trusted care that can help more people back to the labor force.”

Meanwhile, Heid is looking for more financial assistance on her own.

“Big banks won’t lend to you unless you’re getting $350-thousand loans,” said Heid. “I don’t need $350-thousand.”

She’s looking for ways to turn months of survival into years.



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