Marin County restaurants get over $88M from federal pandemic relief fund
A Small Business Administration administered program to move federal dollars directly to help restaurants nationwide amounted to $89.1 million in Marin County alone, analysis by the Marin Economic Forum showed.
Released Tuesday, the economic development nonprofit’s research zeroed in on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. It is a $28.6 billion program signed into law by President Biden as part of the American Rescue Plan. It was intended to provide economic aid to restaurants and other establishments struggling to make ends meet as a result of the pandemic.
Since the March erupted on the national scene, causing a economic shock wave, restaurants suffered, forced to close, layoff staff or survive by switching options allowed under pandemic-inspired lockdown measures such as curbside takeout.
The National Restaurant Association has reported the industry suffered nearly $200 billion in losses during the pandemic.
Examining data released by the SBA on July 2, Marin Economic Council found that of the $88 million the program distributed to 170 restaurants in Marin County, the greatest share went to the bayside community of Sausalito at $32 million.
Close behind was San Rafael, with eateries in its boundaries receiving $29.1 million.
Restaurants in West Marin, including those in Forest Knolls, Bolinas, Pt. Reyes, Olema, and Marshall received a combined $7.4 million. That was followed by Novato ($6.4 million), Mill Valley ($3.9 million), San Anselmo ($2.6 million), Tiburon ($2 million), Fairfax ($1.8 million), Greenbrae/Kentfield ($962,214), Larkspur ($888,528) and Corte Madera ($661,897). Restaurants in Muir Beach and Ross received $873,532 and $19,304, respectively.
Mike Blakeley, CEO of the nonprofit which undertook the analysis, said, “Overall the restaurant/bar sector is not huge in terms of revenues or number of businesses but it is a major employer (about 10%).“
He noted the number of people employed by restaurants and bars dropped from 11,604 in 2019 to 7,920 the following year. However, in the same year over year comparison, the number of establishments declined by only 27.
“The level of funding received shows how deep the pain was for that sector, considering they were allowed to partially operate through takeout, outdoor dining, until just one month ago (June 15). That being said, we did not see as many closures of businesses we might have expected given the minimal operating conditions. We did expect to see the reduction in employees-despite PPP and other efforts employers had to shed jobs in that sector.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with revised figures on total aid given to Marin County restaurants under the program and the number of restaurants receiving that assistance. Also, an earlier version included an incorrect name for the Marin Economic Forum.