A new $28-billion federal grant is giving local restaurants the boost they need to survive. The online portal opened Monday afternoon for businesses to apply for the SBA's Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The grant will prioritize businesses owned by women, veterans and those that have been socially and economically impacted throughout the pandemic.
"As a woman, as a Latina, I am benefiting from this, you know, but I hope that all the restaurants out there that really need it, get some grants," says Marta Bianchini, owner of Cubanitas.
According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, 71% of restaurant operators say their total sale volumes from March of 2021 was lower than it would normally be in the absence of COVID-19.
Cubanitas was forced to shut its doors for the first time last year after 26 years of business.
"It was probably the most stressful times in our 26 years of being in the restaurant business."
Luckily they were able to open their doors four months later.
The restaurant, with two locations, saw a decline in their downtown shop, located on North Milwaukee and East Mason Street, compared to their second in Oak Creek.
"We really feel that downtown has experienced it even worse than other areas, not all of my restaurants are applying for the funding, but this location primarily because it’s downtown Milwaukee, needed some extra help."
Bianchini has hopes this grant will bring them the stability they need to move forward.
"We were able to retain about 95% of our staff, and we were grateful for the community support as well as all the grants that were out there, and this is the final grant that we needed to push us over."