Restaurants in Kansas City struggling during pandemic looking for federal relief help

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Restaurants everywhere have Monday circled on their calendars.

That’s when they’ll able to request federal relief money — a sliver of billions meant to help restaurants affected by the pandemic to remain on their feet.

The Restaurant Revitalization Program holds more than $28 billion in aid for struggling restaurants and small businesses. The first round of applications will be designated for businesses owned by veterans, females, as well as those considered to be socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. 

“The federal government is making an investment into our industry,” David Lopez, general manager at Manny’s Mexican Restaurant, said.

Lopez’s family restaurant opened more than 40 years ago on Southwest Blvd. It’s one of thousands of restaurants hopeful to use the Restaurant Revitalization Program to recoup some of the money it lost in 2020.

Manny’s, like many other restaurants, shifted its business plan to include more carryout instead of dining-in. Lopez said he’s hopeful to use relief money to expand on that.

“I don’t know if any other industry in America can turn around as quickly as the restaurant industry,” Lopez said. “Those are the types of programs and plans that people are going to start to execute within our industry.”

Manny’s isn’t the only local favorite in need of some help. Kevin Timmons, co-owner of Nick and Jake’s, beliefs the Restaurant Revitalization Program can help businesses that have fallen behind on their bills. Nick and Jake’s owners closed their South Plaza location within the past year due to a decline in business.

“There was a lot of panic going on last March and April. We still haven’t gotten caught up on a lot of things. We’re still not a whole business,” Timmons said. “There’s only certain things they can spend the money on, but it’s kind of the main things.”

Lopez and Timmons are hopeful relief money will help them hire more employees, but for now, they’re among the restaurants facing a shortage of applicants.

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