COVID-19: Resources and Relief Programs Available To Restaurants

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced restaurants across the country to close their doors to dine-in customers. Many have had to shut down completely while others are scraping by on delivery and pick-up orders. In an effort to help restaurant owners, we’ve rounded up COVID-19 resources and relief programs available to restaurants and their staff.

COVID-19: Resources and Relief Programs Available To Restaurants

How can restaurants minimize the impact of COVID-19?

1. Safety Should be Your First Priority. Lay down detailed guidelines for your service staff and kitchen staff. Remove all tableware including salt shakes and sauces with single-use sachets.
2. Go cashless
3. Train Your Staff To Handle Any Emergency
4. Look Opportunities for Cutting Down Costs
5. Rethink Your Menu – remove low demand resource-intensive items and come up with menu items that lend themselves to delivery and takeout.
6. Providing Delivery Is The Way To Go
7. Work With Third-Party Delivery Services
8. Go Big On Contactless Delivery And Curbside Pickup
9. Come up with Offers And Specials To Meet Changing Demands
10. Win The Confidence Of Your Customers
a. Put up posters publicizing your sanitizing efforts.
b. Pop-ups on the website/ online ordering platform should talk about your efforts. 
c. Publicize the efforts you are taking to ensure in-store sanitation on your social media handles/ emails to customers/chatbot messages/ text messages.
e. Communicate your commitment to the community and let them know that you are concerned about their safety and wellbeing.
f. Connect with local Facebook groups to reach out to your local community and thank them for their support.
g. Reach out to local group admins and request them to call on the community to support local businesses in this hour of crisis.
11. Explore Alternatives: Appeal to your loyal customers to buy gift cards to help you ride over the crisis.
12. Stay On Top Of Options: There are several Government/Public Grants and private initiatives
Private Initiatives to help restaurants during the current crisis.
13. Rent negotiation: Reach out to your landlord to explain the situation and ask them if they are willing to help you out with some temporary rent discount until things settle down.

COVID-19: Resources and Relief Programs Available To Restaurants

1. Pay-check Protection Program
2. Economic Injury Disaster Loans
3. Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan
4. SBA Debt Relief
5. SBA Express Bridge Loans
Private Initiatives such as Dining Bond Initiative and Facebook Small Business Grant .
Resources For Restaurant Workers
a. ROC Disaster Relief Fund
b. Another Round, Another Rally
c. One Fair Wage
d. Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation

Reopening Checklist: Prepare Your Restaurant to Welcome Back Dine-in Guests

a. Operating Hours: Consider going back to normal operating hours in a phased manner. .
b. Rethink Your Menu: eliminate buffets and other resource-intensive menu items or items having a very low demand.
c. Take Stock of Your Inventory: Keep small inventories. Remove resource intensive items from your menu.
Remove items that will be difficult to procure and look for substitutes.
d. Labor: You can choose to incrementally adjust labor based on demand and hours of operation. If you do plan to hire additional labor, ensure that you start the hiring process well in time to be ready for the re-opening.
e. Managing Multiple Locations: If you own multiple locations,  you should avoid sharing resources between them to minimize contact between personnel. If you work with a larger team, you could consider splitting them into two teams that do not interact with one another. 
f. Lay Down Clear GUIDELINES for the Staff
g. Any Employee  Who Has Any Symptoms Should Be Sent On Leave
h. There should be clear guidelines for workers returning to work after recovery
i. Lay down detailed guidelines for your Service Staff and Kitchen Staff and establish a disinfecting protocol and schedule cleaning time.
j. Minimize Contact at Each Touchpoint: Limit the number of customers to 50% (some states have stipulated 25%) of seating capacity. Consider reservation /call ahead process so that you can adhere to capacity and distance requirement.
k. Use technology where possible to minimize contact, including mobile ordering, menu tablets, texts on arrival for seating, and contactless payment.
l. Use floor markings/decals to maintain distance both inside and outside your establishment and contactless payment.
m. Control and monitor all movement of guests within the restaurant such as trips to restrooms etc to maintain distancing requirements.
n. Encourage customers to remain in cars while waiting to be seated/ or for to-go orders.
e. Rethink  Seating Plan: No tables of more than 6 people.
f. Prepare Tables for Guests: Remove condiments, silverware, flatware, glassware, or other traditional table-top items and eliminate table presets.
h. Have Guidelines for Food Delivery and TakeOut and Delivery Drivers
j. Communicate distancing and safety guidelines to suppliers.
k. Publicize your efforts

Resources and Relief Programs Available To Restaurants

Government Initiatives

The Government has come up with several relief programs and resources to provide financial assistance and support to restaurant owners and their staff.

1. Pay-check Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program has authorized up to $349 billion to provides resources and financial assistance to millions of Americans employed by small businesses.

Learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program

2. Economic Injury Disaster Loans 

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loan to small businesses to provide relief to struggling restaurants and small businesses in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

  • Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees are eligible. Businesses with over 500 employees will also be able to apply provided that they come under SBA Size Standards
  • The program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million. 
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills.
  • Small Businesses can avail of these loans at an interest rate is 3.75%. 
  • SBA offers long-term repayment plans, up to a maximum of 30 years. (Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.)


3. Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan

Small business owners can apply for an advance of up to $10,000 to overcome any temporary loss of revenue they might be experiencing. To provide immediate relief to business owners the funds will be released within 3 days of loan approval. In addition, this loan advance will not have to be repaid 

Apply for the Loan Advance

4. SBA Debt Relief

The SBA Debt Relief program will provide assistance to small businesses by paying the principal and interest on 

  • current 7(a) loans for a period of six months
  • new 7(a) loans issued before September 27, 2020.

5. SBA Express Bridge Loans

Small businesses that currently banking with an SBA Express Lender can access up to $25,000 under Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program. The pilot program aims to provide immediate relief to business owners by reducing turnaround time and paperwork involved in processing the loans.

Connect with your local SBA District Office  to find an Express Bridge Loan Lender 

Private Initiatives

Several private organizations have stepped in to provide resources and financial assistance to restaurant owners and workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

1. Dining Bond Initiative

An initiative by a group of restaurant industry professionals to provide support to restaurant owners by helping them to raise funds. Customers willing to support a restaurant can buy gift certificates at a discount of 25 percent, which can be redeemed at the concerned restaurant at their face value on a later date. The program is open to all restaurants.

For more information visit the Dining Bond Initiative FAQ

Sign up to Dining Bond Initiative

2. Facebook

 Facebook has initiated the Facebook Small Business Grant to help small businesses in over 30 countries.  The program offers to support  USD 100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses.

Facebook will start accepting applications for the program in the coming weeks. However, restaurants can sign-up now to receive updates on the program.

Resources For Restaurant Workers

1. ROC Disaster Relief Fund

Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, a  non-profit organization, has set up an emergency relief fund to help restaurant workers who may lose their jobs during the pandemic.

2. Another Round, Another Rally

ARAR is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to people employed in the hospitality industry. The organization is providing $500 relief grants to workers who have lost jobs or had their hours slashed due to the coronavirus crisis.

3. One Fair Wage

One Fair Wage is a non-profit organization that provides cash support to service workers earning a sub-minimum wage. The group has set up an Emergency Support Fund to provide cash relief to Restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers, and more. You can sign-up to receive as support at One Fair Wage Help.

4. Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation

RWCF COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund is offering cash relief to individual workers facing economic hardships in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. You can sign up for assistance at the Southern Smoke Application Form.

Other Assistance

1. UberEats


2. GrubHub

  • Temporarily deferred delivery fees for independent restaurants in the US.
  • Funding limit: N/A, up to $100 million in commission payments.
  • Sign-up to Grubhub

3. DoorDash

  • Zero commissions for 30 days. Merchants will not be asked to pay anything back.
  • Same-day payouts
  • Sign-Up To DoorDash

4. Google Ad Credits

Google has set up a $340 million fund to provide advertising credits to  Small and medium businesses, who advertise directly with Google or its partners with active accounts since the beginning of 2019. Learn more about COVID-19: Ad credits for Google Ads Small and Medium-sized Businesses.

5. Yelp

Yelp has waived advertising fees and is providing free advertising credits to independent local restaurant and nightlife businesses on Yelp. Learn more about Yelp’s COVID-19 Response and Support for Local Businesses.