Governor Tony Evers’ announcement of a new relief fund targeting local Wisconsin restaurants has received bipartisan support. But not all restaurants will receive the state aid, and some restaurant owners say that might not be enough to last through the winter.
Today, Governor Tony Evers announced $45 million in relief to Wisconsin’s local restaurants.
The money, drawn from federal COVID-19 relief funds, are part of the third wave of state grants to small businesses.
Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, or WEDC, says grants of up to $20,000 will go to roughly 2,200 local Wisconsin restaurants.
“We’re hoping that this $20,000 will help them keep their doors open but also help them keep a couple of their employees rather than laying folks off,” Hughes says.
Unlike previous phases of grants, businesses won’t have to apply, and will automatically be considered for the program and contacted if they qualify, Hughes says.
Francesca Hong is member-elect for the Wisconsin State assembly and owner of local restaurant Morris Ramen, on King St. She says that while the bailout is helpful, restaurants and businesses need a more comprehensive plan.
“They are really at a place where you’re still going to see restaurants shutting down this coming winter,” Hong says.
Hong says Morris Ramen will not be receiving funds from the program. Smaller restaurants may not benefit from the program — Hughes says it targets businesses with annual revenue between 1 million and 7 million dollars that have been impacted the most by the pandemic, as well as those with a significant number of employees.
Peter McElvanna, the proprietor and general manager of Cooper’s Tavern, doesn’t know yet if his restaurant qualifies for the program. But he says $20,000 wouldn’t carry his restaurant very far.
“It’d be a drop in the ocean,” McElvanna says, “Don’t get me wrong, if we were to get it it’d be amazing, we’d be really thankful for it, but that would pretty much just cover two weeks.”
Money that Wisconsin received through the Federal Cares Act will expire at the end of the year, although the deadline may be extended.
Hughes says restaurants will be contacted within the next week, and will receive the grants within the month.