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Which Philly Businesses Received the Most Restaurant Relief Funds?

Only 35 percent of Pennsylvania restaurants that applied for Small Business Administration relief funds received money — and two Pennsylvania restaurant groups were given a full $10 million each

interior of restaurant with colorful tile floor, tables spaced apart, and diners and servers wearing pandemic face masks, with a view of tables outside
Cuba Libre
Michael Thomas

Data released on Friday, July 9, by the Small Business Administration revealed that only 35 percent of restaurants in Pennsylvania that applied for funding through the federal government’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund received grant money before the fund ran dry. The highest eligible amount — $10 million — was granted to two restaurant groups in Pennsylvania: the group behind Cuba Libre, the Old City Cuban restaurant that opened in 2001 and now has four additional restaurants around the country, and Big Burrito Group, a restaurant group with seven restaurants in the Pittsburgh area.

Of the 9,944 restaurants in Pennsylvania that applied, 3,530 received grant money. While the fund was labeled for restaurant relief, several kinds of food businesses, including caterers, bars, wineries, and bakeries were eligible to apply for the pandemic funds. Of the 3,530 to receive grants in Pennsylvania, 731 businesses were based in Philadelphia, and of the total $28.6 billion distributed to restaurants across the country, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania received a total of $949,357,480.

While the average grant size nationally was $283,000, roughly 75 percent of Pennsylvania’s applicants received $280,000 or less. Temporarily closed restaurants were also eligible for aid. Here are the restaurants and catering businesses in Philadelphia that received the greatest amount of relief through the SBA fund:

  • Guest Counts Hospitality LLC, operator of Cuba Libre and Empanada Alley, $10 million
  • 76 West LLC, which operates Michael Schulson’s Sampan, $5.9 million
  • New York Ice Cream Inc, which oversees concessions like Smashburger and Bruegger’s Bagels at the Philadelphia International Airport, $5.5 million
  • 12th Street Cantina LLC., which operates 12th Street Catering, $5 million
  • 3BM1 Catering LLC., the catering arm of the Garces Restaurant Group, $4.8 million
  • Jack Duggan’s at PHL International Airport, $4.2 million
  • Harp & Crown, $3.8 million
  • Giuseppe & Sons (temporarily closed), $3.7 million
  • White Dog Cafe, $3.6 million
  • Estia, $3.6 million

This is in addition to the $145 million in funding secured by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf last year for the statewide COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program. Those funds were distributed to Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, and have been directed to individual businesses through a county-specific application process. To explore the list of SBA grant recipients in the rest of Pennsylvania, you can search by state online.

The SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund has encountered several stumbling blocks in the process of the rollout, the most recent being a lawsuit backed by former Trump advisers Stephen Miller and Mark Meadows. The SBA restaurant relief program gave priority review status to socially and economically disadvantaged groups — like women, veterans, and people of color — a fact that a white Pennsylvania bar owner and two white Texas restaurant owners sued the SBA over, claiming discrimination. The lawsuit caused the SBA to halt funds to 2,900 minority-owned businesses who had already been approved. Now that the fund is closed, their applications and relief funds remain in limbo.

The SBA’s restaurant relief fund is out of money now, but legislators are hoping to top it off with an additional $60 billion. Whether that will happen anytime soon remains to be seen.

White Dog Cafe

3420 Sansom Street, , PA 19104 (215) 386-9224 Visit Website

Giuseppe & Sons

1523 Sansom Street, , PA 19102 (215) 399-9199 Visit Website

Harp & Crown

1525 Sansom Street, , PA 19102 (215) 330-2800 Visit Website

Sampan

124 South 13th Street, , PA 19107 (215) 732-3501 Visit Website

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