Small business owners hope COVID-19 relief will help them survive pandemic

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)— Local restaurant owners are applying to the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund to keep their doors open during the pandemic.

The fund was created under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Toula Panos, owner of The Greek Taverna on West Broad Street in Richmond, said she sat down to register for some money today. She said she’s hoping the money can help with payroll and food costs for a few weeks.

“Hopefully we’ll get some more funds to keep everything going and afloat,” Panos said.

However, she’s concerned that the money won’t sustain her business long-term.

“With the unknown of how long the pandemic is going to go, I can’t say that it’s going to keep me sustained,” Panos said. “If we continue another couple years like this, I don’t know what that would mean for any business in Richmond.”

Panos said her main struggle during the pandemic was hiring staff and figuring out when to schedule  her team since the flow of customers was inconsistent at the height of the pandemic.
Food sales are where they’re supposed to be now, but she says their alcohol sales are still not reaching pre-pandemic levels.

“We want business to be back 100% and for the pandemic to be over,” she said.

In a media availability Monday, Senator Mark Warner said the federal government set aside $29 billion for restaurants.

“A lot of restaurants have been holding on. I want all these restaurants to come back,” he said.

The hospitality industry is taking a hard hit during the pandemic.

“Millions if not tens of millions of jobs that will not be coming back post-COVID[-19],” Warner said.

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