The city held an information session with local business owners Monday to discuss Mayor Brian Arrigo’s innovative pilot grant program to provide relief to Revere restaurant owners.
Up to 10 restaurants in Revere will be selected to participate in the program that will award $250,000 in grants.
“We know that this industry has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Arrigo. “Over the past few months my team and the Office of Planning and Development have been working to find a way to support these small businesses. These grants will not only help restaurants continue to operate in a safe manner but also create a strong foundation for the City’s long-term economic recovery.”
City Planner Tech Leng, Business Liaison John Festa, Transportation Manager Julie DeMauro, and Business Stability Officer Cesar Calderon of the Planning and Economic Development Department led the session that was broadcast virtually. Close to 300 business owners received an invitation to participate in the heavily promoted effort.
Festa welcomed the business community to the City of Revere’s COVID-19 Restaurant Recovery Grant Program.
“Today our team will explain the program in detail, the goals and objectives, the eligibility requirements, the documentation needed to apply, and the actual application that you will have to fill out,” said Festa.
DeMauro explained to the attendees the application process, meticulously going through each portion of the application that was shown on-screen.
“It is a pilot program and we want to make sure that people have access to it, so we’re encouraging everybody to apply that meets the criteria,” said DeMauro.
Spiros Stogiannis, owner of Easy Pie, asked about the determining factor for the funds that will be allocated. He said during the course of the pandemic, he has been allowed a maximum capacity of nine diners at his popular restaurant.
Festa said the determination will be made bases on sales figures from the past two years, the seating capacity of the business, and other factors.
“We want the business to continue so we’re trying to be helpful in terms of doing it in a capacity for making the judgment based on numerous factors,” explained Festa.
Jodenne Scott, an official at Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant that has a location on American Legion Highway inside a hotel, said she was “a little slightly disappointed that you’re not allowing chains to be able to be a part of your pilot program.”
“We’re just as affected (by the pandemic) as everybody else,” added Scott.
Festa responded, “We’re trying to really focus on small, family-owned or independently owned that have been severely impacted from this. With various chains, it’s a different makeup, a different element so we’ll probably have it in the future, but at this particular time, this is the criteria that was set forward on this pilot program.”
After Scott noted that Margarita’s has 17 restaurants total, but only in Revere. Festa then suggested to Scott that she should submit an application “because you’re saying that it’s one particular entity” and her business (Margarita’s) is in a different category than traditional chain restaurants.
A business owner asked the panel who was going to make the decision on the grant applications.
“It [the decision] is going to be determined by the Planning and Development that you see here today and Maggie Haney and Michael Wells of the City of Revere as well,” said Festa.
Overall, business owners were very pleased with the helpfulness of the panel and the idea itself of helping them during challenging financial times due to the ongoing pandemic.
Applications for the pilot program are due Feb. 28.