NEW ORLEANS — Like many small businesses in New Orleans, Ethopian restaurant Addis Nola has struggled through the pandemic.
“For us, there have been challenges. With any business that you get, specifically small owned, family owned businesses, you get challenges,” said Prince Lobo, co-owner of Addis Nola.
But now, small business owners in the food and beverage industry, like Lobo, have an opportunity to get back on their feet with new government funds heading to Louisiana.
“This is a 28.6 billion dollar fund, this is huge for the city of New Orleans, especially with us being a hospitality city, destination city and where restaurants are at the forefront of everything that we do,” said Mayor Latoya Cantrell.
This morning, registration opened up for the federal Restaurant Revitalization fund, a part of the American Rescue Plan, that’s financially supporting small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
“This is going to be the primary source of income and reimbursement of of expenses and not only that, of lost revenue for our businesses,” said Mayor Cantrell.
The city is creating a case management system to help prioritize businesses who are hurting the most, and for the first 21 days of enrollment, the focus will be on minority owned businesses.
“If we look at the numbers in New Orleans, we’re 63% of the population. Things like this, they need to be happening more often as a way for us to increase equity in our communities, increase diversity of business,” said Lobo.
Lobo says he plans on registering for the federal funds as soon as he can. He says this past year has been a challenge, but is optimistic a booming economy is on the other side of this financial struggle.
“We’re going into the golden ages right now, because even 100 years ago when all the different flus in 1919 and all the different flus that were happening at the time, right after was the roaring twenties, right? So let’s make it happen.”
The funds aren’t just for restaurants and bars. Any local small business in the food and beverage industry, including food trucks and catering companies, can apply for these federal funds. The application period will start this Monday, May 3 at 11 a.m. and will stay open until all funds are exhausted.
If you’re interested in applying, go to https://restaurants.sba.gov/requests/borrower/login/?next=/.