RRF included in Biden’s massive stimulus package
By Rebecca Spiess
Some Methow Valley restaurants may be receiving money from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), a program that is part of the $28.6 billion stimulus package signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The fund will offset pandemic-incurred losses for restaurants, bars and other qualifying businesses.
The RRF has been distributing funds on a rolling basis since May 11, after opening applications one week earlier. Applications prioritize women-led businesses as well as businesses controlled by individuals from underserved backgrounds and veterans. As of May 12, the RRF has received more than 266,000 applications nationwide.
In an effort to reach out, Twisp Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director Jamie Petitto emailed the town’s dozen or so restaurants about applying to the RRF in April. Two Twisp restaurant owners, including El Valle Restaurant’s Luis Ortega, said they did not feel they had enough financial need to apply.
“I didn’t hear a lot from that area, believe it or not,” Washington Small Business Development Center Business Counselor John Morosco said of the Methow Valley. “I suspect, and it’s only a suspicion, that the area relied heavily on takeout orders.”
This was certainly true for East 20 Pizza in Winthrop, which will not be applying to the RRF program. The restaurant’s takeout options and outdoor seating have allowed continued operation during the pandemic, although a PPP loan last summer aided the restaurant in staying open.
“We don’t really qualify for some of the other funding because we didn’t really take that big of a hit,” owner Lindsay Evans said. “We’ve been uniquely situated in our business because we are very takeout-friendly.”
“Our inside dining area is actually really small anyway,” Evans added. “It definitely made an impact when we closed our dining room. We haven’t had people in our dining room in over a year now.”
Teo Dominguez, owner of The Duck Brand Hotel and Restaurant in Winthrop, said his business will not be applying to the RRF either. He was unaware of the RRF, and The Duck Brand has managed to make it through the pandemic without federal funding so far. The restaurant just reopened last month after closing for the winter.
“It was easier to close than dealing with the restrictions and taking a risk,” Dominguez explained. “We were closed from Nov. 1 until April 1. I guess we’re okay, we’re still open.”
Rocking Horse Bakery in Winthrop, however, will be applying to the RRF program.
“We hope every restaurant in the valley does the same. These funds will certainly be a benefit to the community, but there is, however, an even greater need … and that is the need for housing security for those young people who would move to the valley for jobs,” Rocking Horse owners Carolyn and Mark Westerfield wrote in a statement.
At least one other restaurant in Winthrop is expected to apply for the RRF funds.
Following the fund’s 21-day priority period ending on May 24, applications will be processed in the order they were received. This means Methow Valley restaurants still have time to apply for the RRF. Applications from businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals will still be prioritized.