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Grant money available for local restaurants and restaurant workers

Restaurant writer Ian McNulty details some of the national COVID-19 relief funds aimed at helping local restaurants and their employees

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans' critically important restaurant industry, like restaurants nationwide, has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Starting this week there is some additional help available for restaurant owners and restaurant workers.

"There's a lot of hurt going around in this industry," said Ian McNulty, restaurant writer for The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate and NOLA.com. "It's part of the culture of our city, it's a cornerstone of the economy and frankly it's part of our identity. It's why people come here to visit and it's one of the thing that makes life great here under normal circumstances."

McNulty said that it's heartening to see more efforts to help locals who are currently out of work because of the pandemic.

This week the National Restaurant Association began its new Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, offering grants of $500 per person for restaurant workers. Applications open Thursday (April 2). 

These one-time grants are for people who worked either full time of part time in the restaurant industry as a primary source of income for at least 90 days in the past year, and were financially impacted by the pandemic. See application and eligibility details at rerf.us.

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The group opened the application process for it on Monday, with grants available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The grants are aimed at “small, independent restaurants” (100 or fewer employees) that need immediate funds to pay operating expenses, according to the foundation.

The foundation said its grant funds will be divided evenly across the country along the 12 regions it uses for its awards. Louisiana is in a region that includes Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

The application for the first round of grants will remain open through Friday, April 3.

To apply, and see eligibility requirements, visit jamesbeard.org/relief-fund-application.

For more on local hospitality worker relief, click here.