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Restaurant owners find out promised federal relief dollars are ‘fully canceled’

Some restaurant owners are finding out they will not get much-needed federal dollars that were promised to them through the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Veteran, women and disadvantaged restaurant owners had the opportunity to apply for federal dollars three weeks early in May. 

Danielle Lothrop, owner of Toggle’s Bottle Shop in Everett, applied for the money. She said she didn’t have much faith she would receive them. However, to her surprise, she was selected.

“I received an email that said you had been awarded $128,000,” she said.

Lothrop says those dollars equate to revenue she lost during the pandemic. She says with the federal money, she would be able to pay back-rent, and supply her employees with bonuses.

However, on Wednesday she found out she would not receive the money.

“I got an email from the SBA saying that there is pending litigation, and that all of those funds have been, they call it, ‘fully canceled.’ So, that gives me no hope of ever receiving that money,” she said.

RELATED: ‘We can’t find people anywhere:’ Washington restaurant owners face staffing shortage

Several lawsuits have been filed across the country challenging the fairness of priority system that was associated with the relief fund, which gave veterans, women, and disadvantaged owners three weeks priority access at applying for the money. 

Because of these suits, the dollars Lothrop were promised are now frozen.

“Nationally, 3,000 restaurant operators were told they would receive a grant that could save their business – only to have it rescinded. Even before that, applications exceeded funding by $50 billion. We are calling on Congress to backfill the funding and help restaurants that have been decimated by forced shutdowns for more than a year,” said Anthony Anton, President and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association.

Lothrop said she has no faith she will ever receive the money now, but she acknowledged that she is one of the lucky ones because her business will be able to keep going. 

She said she knows there are owners out there who were relying on these dollars to stay open.

“It’s truly meant to be a lifeline to business impacted by COVID,” she said.

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