Restaurant Grant Information

Maybe it’s the low abv covid streaming through my system post-jab 1 but I’m feeling quite woozy.  Or, maybe I’m intoxicated by the encouraging signs of life sprouting up around bars and restaurants.  As part of the topsoil in which the industry grows, I’m telling y’all, things are getting mighty fertile around here after the long, hard dry spell.

Seeds for new restaurants are being sown as restaurateurs are negotiating with Landy for new spots and Landy is being less assholish than usual as they are still bruised and unsure about the future of retail.  The aggressive operators are pouncing and locking in deals as they know good conditions when they see them and also know that they could turn unfavorable at any moment.  New leases and liquor license applications are flying out of our office.

New growth is also starting to appear as hotels are reopening and planning for a full on travel stampede this summer.  Same for food halls, malls and really F&B operations everywhere. So folks, it’s no longer a question of if we will come back stronger but rather, when. I think we will see the industry back to full speed by July 1st and then, utter pandemonium will ensue as we enter post-pan post haste.


Restaurant Grant Update:

As of the time of this newsletter with no name, the SBA has not issued guidelines for the Restaurant Revitalization Grants.  But they have issued them for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and since a) it’s a grant and b) it’s for our industry and c) it’s a direct grant from the SBA, we are thinking that some of the key requirements to apply may be the same.  In order to get a jump on the process, we and the team at Scotto & Melchiorre have some suggestions:

1.  Apply for a DUNS number: As the SBA works on building the application platform, it would be in your best interest to register for a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number. You will need it to…

2.  Register with SAM.  Once you receive your DUNS number, you can register in the System for Award Management (SAM.gov).  Applicants need to register with the federal government’s SAM at www.SAM.gov to apply and cannot use an ITIN, EIN, or other means of identification or registration. Each eligible entity applying must use its own SAM registration and the registration may take up to two weeks once submitted. For assistance with this, please reach out to sba@scottomelchiorre.com.
 
3. Gather Proof of Revenue Decline  – It has not yet been confirmed by the SBA what documents will be needed to prove revenue decline. As we saw in the PPP, we were able to choose between tax returns, signed financial statements, and POS statements so might as well get them all together.
 
And what happens if the funds run out?  Again,  we can look to how the SVOG is being handled and here is what the SBA is saying about that:
 
“If all SVOG funding is expended during the program’s initial phase (or funds run out before the SBA can make fully funded supplemental awards to all eligible entities), the SBA intends to issue zero dollar ‘placeholder’ supplemental awards that could subsequently be modified to add funds in the event Congress appropriates additional monies for the program. Under this approach, an eligible entity that received a zero-dollar placeholder grant would still be entitled to the six-month extension afforded to recipients of supplemental phase awards.”  So, basically, you keep your place in line and we have to hope that they replenish the kitty.

Also, the Senate just confirmed Isabel Guzman as the chief of the SBA so now there is a boss in the house and hopefully, she will make it happen.  She was the Deputy Chief of Staff of the SBA under President Obama and has a long career in the small business world so we are optimistic that she will hit the ground running and will get the grants out STAT!

Now, here’s everyone’s favorite Licensing Czar, Mr. Levey with another edition of

Joey Regs Says..Tomorrow is a big day.  Restaurants within the five boroughs will finally be able to expand to 50% capacity for indoor dining.  I bet that none of you ever imagined [before 2020] that you’d be thrilled to have 50% of your dining room full on a Friday night.  Yet now, it’s a meaningful next step on the long road back.

As I’ve done in advance of the last few “reopening” milestones, I will caution you about some things that have NOT changed – despite the inside dining capacity increase and remind you to be careful and vigilant. 
 
 – You must still maintain interior distance guidelines – 6’ apart or plexi dividers between tables.  The former will be getting tougher as capacity expands, so start considering some new layouts and maybe invest in some plexi dividers sooner rather than later.
 
 – THERE IS STILL A CURFEW OF 11:00 PM IN PLACE – this is such a tempting rule to break, but please don’t. It doesn’t get easier to prove from an enforcement perspective than this, and you’d be mortgaging your future for a couple bucks.
 
 – The food required with alcohol purchases rule is still a thing.  Again, tempting, but please don’t.
 
 – The no standing/congregating at or around bars rule has not gone away.  Just say no; and keep it tight for a little while longer.  You’ve come this far!
 
It has been your collective thoughtfulness and care as operators that has advanced us to this point.  Let’s not do anything to stop the momentum now.  We see the rest of the State moving to 75% indoor capacity.  That’s next for us and it’s close.  Heads down, masks up and we’ll get there.
 
Let’s talk about the curfew issue for one more moment.  I field questions on this topic every single day.  Everyone on the planet seems to know that this is a bad idea EXCEPT our Governor.  And he’s the only one that can change it.  What I’m hearing from my government sources is that the only way the curfew gets lifted is for there to be a full-on media/PR onslaught in his direction.  So, I implore each and every one of you to take to social media, engage your representatives, tweet at Cuomo directly, anything and everything that you can think of, and let’s start pressuring this guy to do the right thing here.  The curfew is dumb.  I’m sure you’ve all see the Gremlin meme at this point.  And it’s spot-on here.  Let’s get the word out and apply some old-school pressure.  In case anyone has been living under a rock for the last few news cycles, he’s got his hands full at the moment and can’t take any more bad press.  He needs wins now and he’ll take them where he can get them.  I think that if we can really focus on this, we can actually move the needle here.


Cannabis News:

Let’s step away from the pandemic-related stuff for a moment and focus on something more… GREEN.  We’ve been teasing Cannabis legalization for months, and for months, things have been progressing.  Well, we’re finally going to see some action in New York!!

I have it on good authority that this will actually get done in advance of the Governor’s budget – which means in the next two weeks.  Right now, the Guv and the Legislators are tentatively planning to publish a mutually agreed upon bill as early as this weekend, with a vote that could happen as early as next week.  This is huge news.  And while we have been close to legalization previously, it’s never actually been quite THIS close.

The next logical question, that those of your who are interested in getting involved in the space should be asking is “What am I supposed to be doing right now?”  It’s a really good question, and the answer is, “Preparing.”  And there’s lots to do.  As always, we’re here to help.  And to that end, it is my absolute pleasure to announce that Canna Chats are coming back!  Our next event will be virtual, unfortunately, but I promise that it will be worthwhile.

The event will be on Tuesday, April 20th at 3:00 PM EST. And the focus will be two-fold:

1 – New York cannabis licensing overview;
2 – How to prepare and position yourself to actually win a license (spoiler alert: we can help)

As always, we will have a stacked panel of knowledgeable guests, and we look forward to seeing everybody there (virtually).

We’ll circulate more info on this in the near future, but consider this your official “Save the Date.”

Joey Regs out.

Now from the Boring but Important Department…

Getting Back to Normal? Don’t forget about your insurance! by Eric Weiner, Madison Avenue Brokerage

This past year has posed many challenges for the food & beverage industry. One of the challenges not often talked about is insurance.


Outdoor Dining

 – Make sure your outside property is covered to value
 –  Check policy limitations such as number of feet from premises or built in policy limits that tend to be lower
Invest in additional liability limits to adequately cover your patrons from vehicle collision
 – When hiring a contractor to construct an outdoor dining space, have your Insurance broker vet the contractors; and
– COI’s for adequacy of coverage/limits and to ensure you are being named as an Additional Insured


BOP Policies

To save money your broker might have changed your coverage to a Business Owners Policy (BOP) 
These policies will need to be rewritten when:

1) Closing times return to pre-COVID hours;
2) Entertainment returns;
3) Liquor revenue exceeds food revenue;
4) Liquor is being served without food;
5) You employ a door host; Dancing is permitted

Your insurance professional should be available to discuss the above matters and make any necessary changes.


HL News

We are thrilled to announce that Mayan Bouskila has been promoted to a Partner of the Firm!  Mayan is the Chair of our Real Estate Group and she has been instrumental  in helping HL clients deal with Landy and we could not be happier to welcome her to the partner table.  Congratulations to Mayan!


As Jerry and the boys like to say: “The future’s here, we are it, we are on our own”

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