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Curran rolls out restaurant recovery grant program

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Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was at Garden Social in East Meadow on Nov. 18, where she announced the county’s latest effort to support small businesses as they continue to struggle with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Through a $2.2 million investment of federal Community Development Block Grant funding, the Restaurant Recovery Grant Program will provide roughly 300 restaurants with a grant of either $5,000 or $10,000, depending on their number of full-time employees. The program is intended to support full-service restaurants during the winter months when outdoor dining is limited and as restaurants adjust to the state’s new safety restrictions and mandates.  

“As County Executive, I am doing everything I can to ensure a strong recovery for small businesses, especially in our cherished downtowns and our restaurants are the anchor of those once bustling communities,” Curran said, noting that 82,000 people working in the restaurant and hospitality industry on Long Island lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

“Despite the creative efforts of our restaurant owners with igloos and heaters, outdoor dining is no longer going to sustain them, and that number could get higher,” she said. “I hope that this new program can provide a boost for our restaurants as they face new challenges during the difficult winter months ahead — typically a slow time of year even without a global pandemic.”

Restaurants can begin applying on Nov. 30 at nassaucountyny.gov/restaurantrecovery. To qualify, restaurants must be in Nassau County, have opened on or before March 1, 2019, and must have 50 or fewer full-time employees.

The funds can be used for working capital; operating expenses including payroll, rent, utilities, purchase of PPE and sanitation supplies; lease or purchase of equipment like kitchen equipment or delivery vehicles, or coronavirus related business improvements like patio heaters or contactless technology.

Restaurants can expect to receive the grants beginning in January 2021. If the establishment is able to retain at least one low/moderate-income job at full-time status with the use of this grant, they will not have to pay it back.

“It may be no surprise that minorities make up a disproportionate share of our hospitality workers and they are not only the cooks and servers in our favorite neighborhood restaurants,” Curran said. “A significant share of restaurant owners are minorities — which is in part why we have such a vibrant and diverse restaurant scene in Nassau. We will be working with our outreach offices — our Office of Minority Affairs, Office of Hispanic Affairs and Office of Asian American affairs, to ensure we let all communities know this help is available.”

Funding for the initiative comes from an allocation from the federal Office of Housing and Urban Development, intended to support communities hard-hit by the pandemic. The county has received two such allocations, the first of which has been largely distributed, supporting for a host of initiatives including the “Boost Nassau” Loan and Free PPE Kit programs. The Nassau County Office of Community Development is charged with distributing the funds. The spending plan for the second allocation of funding, totaling $9.5 million, is awaiting final approval by the County Legislature at its Nov. 23 meeting.