WBALTV: ‘Help is on the way’: Federal stimulus is coming to assist Maryland restaurants

By Lowell Melser
FOR WBALTV | MAR 25, 2021 

It’s no secret the restaurant industry has been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. But now, thanks to the recent COVID-19 relief bill, more federal stimulus is on the way for Maryland restaurants, and this time around, the small ones won’t get left out.

The state of the restaurant industry in Maryland and around the country still isn’t that great. Restaurants, like Liberatore’s in Timonium, are still finding themselves struggling with now.

According to Rep, Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, help is on the way. He said no matter how small your business, you’ll still be able to get help.

With Easter a little more than a week away, one of the busiest days of the year, for John Liberatore and his chain of restaurants, the bump he was looking for just isn’t there.

“I can tell by the reservations we’re not going to have as many people,” Liberatore said.

Liberatore told 11 News that’s kind of been the story since the pandemic began as he’s had to rethink how he runs his business.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business for over 40 years before I owned a restaurant, I’ve never seen anything like this. Never in 1 million years would I expect it to last over a year,” he said.

“Help is on the way,” Ruppersberger said.

At Liberatore’s Timonium location on Thursday, Ruppersberger announced details of the American Rescue Plan, which will provide grant funding for restaurants impacted by the pandemic.

“The risk of doing too little is far greater than the risk of doing too much,” Ruppersberger said.

Ruppersberger calls the plan a lifeline for small businesses.

Some highlights include $28.7 billion for the restaurant industry. For the first 60 days, $5 billion will be set aside for restaurants whose gross revenue was less than $500,000 in 2019. For the first three weeks, priority will be given to women, veteran and disadvantaged restaurant owners and all owners can double dip into other grant pools.

Something that will be a great help to Liberatore’s and the industry as a whole in Maryland.

“There’s less restrictions this time. It’s not so much about your payroll or rank, it’s more open you can use that money to do other things for the restaurant, but you need to do to survive,” he said.

“Restaurants are not at the finish line; they need this money to help keep them open to keep employees working and it really is the lifeline that is going to ensure that we can get to the end of this pandemic. We are we can hopefully operate without restrictions and welcome people again,” said Marshall Weston Jr., president of the Restaurant Association of Maryland.

For more information on how to apply and the requirements involved, click here. The application process should start in the coming weeks.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger represents Maryland’s 2nd District in Congress. His Twitter address is @Call_Me_Dutch.

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