New Orleans restaurants prepare to apply for Restaurant Revitalization Fund

New Orleans restaurants prepare to apply for Restaurant Revitalization Fund
Barrow's Catfish (Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -For generations, Deirdre Barrow Johnson’s family has made their family restaurant a part of the community, and the community a part of their family.

“It’s about empowering other people empowering our community and keeping it going so that was always on the forefront,” said Barrow Johnson

Like many businesses, they changed with the times but kept their family, and their employees, a priority.

Husband and business partner, Kenneth Johnson says the PPP loans made that a reality.

“That PPP loan make sure we were able to keep the employees employed,” said Johnson.

Included in the American Rescue Plan is the restaurant revitalization fund. Restaurants across the country can apply for a piece of the funds’ $28.6 billion dollars. First in line: women and minority-owned businesses.

“If you can help the minority businesses that can sustain employees in the community it has a greater effect for everyone when you think of a minority city like New Orleans minorities make a big part of the labor force in just the economy. If you can stabilize that I think everyone benefits,” said Johnson.

Patrick Gros wears several hats. He works as a CPA, restaurant owner, and partners with several New Orleans area restaurants. Since it was announced, he’s closely monitored the revitalization fund.

“Basically what it’s going to be as you take your 2019 revenue your tax return your 2020 revenue tax return and subtract then you subtract your PPP loans that you got… it’s definitely going to be like a gold rush with the first round of PPP loans,” said Gros.

This modern-day gold rush, he believes will set qualifying restaurants up for success into the year 2022. And for restaurants fighting to stay open throughout the pandemic,he says the money could be life-changing.

“So we just go through the process and fortunately we were approved for it last time so the same approach we have this time,” said Johnson.

With a partnership more than thirty years strong, the pair say the pandemic shook their restaurant. But at each turn they’ve stayed strong not only for each other, but also for the love of their community.

“When the doors shut with other businesses or families leave people lose their stride, with us staying here and fighting we hear that every day we’re so glad you guys are so here and it means more than just a hot meal,” said Barrow Johnson.

The federal government has yet to launch the application portal, estimated to open towards the end of April. Gros says restaurants should start gathering and analyzing their books and budgets or find help to do so.

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