Baton Rouge restaurants hope for more federal aid


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The National Association of Restaurateurs continues put pressure on Congress to replenish the depleted Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which many restaurants in the Baton Rouge area say they can benefit from.

The RRF emptied so quickly, says Pete Sclafani, owner of Phil’s Oyster Bar, Portobello’s Grill and board member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. The aid initially helped minority-owned businesses, which is great, says Sclafani, but left out a few that were still in need.

Sclafani’s businesses were mainly helped by the paycheck protection program, he says, and because of this, were not eligible or received funding from the RRF.

The PPP was meant to keep people employed, says Sclafani, but if you worked in the restaurant business, which saw its business decline due to canceled events, or if you couldn’t keep your doors open, your employees weren’t. not able to work.

“If you had no way of doing business in the future, he said, “how are you going to get people back? You pay them to get in, so they didn’t get that P3 funding.

A replenished RRF would help these businesses the most, he said. The funds would help local businesses reopen and cover losses.

The fund allocated $ 29 billion in federal aid, but ran out earlier this year before tens of thousands of restaurants could take advantage. Lawmakers introduced bipartisan flanking bills in the House and Senate in June that would add roughly $ 60 billion to the RRF, but the bills did not receive any votes on the ground.

Overall, the Baton Rouge community has done a good job supporting local restaurants, Sclafani says, but many still need help.

“It’s disheartening to walk past national fast food chains and see queues winding around the block,” he says, “because local places are always struggling. ”

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