The Coast News Group
A margarita at Cocina Del Charro in Escondido, which was one of more than two dozen Escondido restaurants to receive grants. Photo via Facebook
A margarita at Cocina Del Charro in Escondido. The popular Mexican restaurant was one of more than two dozen Escondido restaurants to receive federal COVID-19 grants. Photo via Facebook

Escondido eateries receive federal COVID relief funds

ESCONDIDO — Several restaurants in Escondido recently benefited from a federal COVID relief program that doled out more than $28 billion in grants to eateries that were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) was established under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open.

“This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023,” according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

More than two dozen Escondido restaurants received grants, according to the SBA database, including Cocina Del Charro, The Grand Tea Room, Gluten Not Included, Cute Cakes, Plan 9 Alehouse and more.

The restaurant industry has lost around $290 billion in sales since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), with around 90,000 restaurants shutting down permanently across the U.S.

Restaurants are also now seeing a hiring shortage across the U.S., leaving many businesses scrambling to find enough employees.

Cocina Del Charro, a family-owned Mexican restaurant located on W. Valley Pkwy. has been operating for 40 years. Thanks to the RRF, the restaurant received a grant of more than $290,000.

“We pride ourselves on serving our community,” the restaurant’s website says. “Our dedication is to the customer which we work so hard for and enjoy serving for years to come.”

Most Escondido eateries received funds ranging from about $10,000 up to $400,000 with a few exceptions.

Hollywood Wings LLC is listed in the database as receiving almost $2 million, followed by Fresh Buffet, Inc., which received about $1.3 million.

“The success of the RRF so far is, in large part, because the SBA focused on making the program simple and accessible,” NRA Vice President Sean Kennedy said in a statement. “We appreciate how swiftly they were able to establish a program unlike anything they had administrated before, and believe it has the structure to sustain additional funding.”

Though the funds have been expended for the RRF, another bipartisan bill called the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021is in the works and, if passed, could be another opportunity for restaurants and eateries to get back on their feet.