Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) approvals met less than half the demand from businesses in every U.S. state and territory, according to data the U.S. Small Business Administration released Wednesday.
The $28.6 billion program, which within two weeks of its launch on May 3 received more funding requests than it could meet, was designed to provide capital for hard-hit restaurants, bars, caterers, and other food service businesses. The SBA's report, which tracks the now-completed program through June 30, shows the RRF received more than $72 billion in funding requests.
The agency approved 101,004 of the 278,304 applications it received, or about 36 percent. Success varied by state and territory. Hawaii had the highest rate, with about 48 percent of its 2,396 applications getting approved. The lowest rate was in the Northern Mariana Islands, where roughly 10 percent of the 119 requests were approved.
Advocacy groups say the industry still needs help, particularly by adding more funds to the RRF. Restaurant and food service sales dropped by $240 billion in 2020 from expected levels according to the National Restaurant Association, and the sector was down 1.7 million jobs in March 2021 compared with the pre-pandemic level. Last month, federal lawmakers launched a bipartisan effort to add $60 billion to the RRF.
"Across the country, a growing number of restaurants have uncertain futures," Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs at the National Restaurant Association said in a statement. "We need Congress to act on the RRF Replenishment Act to provide the SBA with the funds they need to complete this important mission."