Texas food and beverage businesses, including restaurants, bars, food trucks and caterers, have another week to apply for aid through a state COVID-19 recovery fund.

The Texas Travel Industry Recovery Grant Program, which is administered by the Texas Economic Development Office, is providing grants up to $20,000 each to help local food industry businesses. 

Applications for the program and its $180 million fund opened Nov. 1 and ends on Nov. 22 for food businesses and bars impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dave Garner, owner of Wildwood Grill in Southlake, has applied for the grant.

While his Southern cuisine-focused restaurant survived the pandemic, he still sees an impact as he navigates the changes it brought about. Most recently, he has seen the costs for food and supplies increase.  

“The package of shortening that I used to purchase for $18 is now $44,” he said. “So even though our supply issues have straightened out in the last 90 days, we’re getting hit with increases in the costs of food and supplies.” 

Eligibility for the grants is not affected if a business previously received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program or similar financial recovery grant programs.

“Restaurants and other food service businesses faced unprecedented challenges as a result of government closure orders and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. 

The TRA estimates that 2,500 restaurants in North Texas closed because of the pandemic. Knight said many restaurants are still struggling more than two years after the pandemic. 

“For many restaurants, this grant program will go a long way toward  helping them get back on their feet so they can continue to employ and serve their neighbors for years to come,” she said. 

Priority is given to businesses that demonstrate the largest negative financial impact from COVID-19 and that have not received aid previously. Grants are available for each qualifying business with a unique Texas taxpayer identification number, said John Fletcher, of Arlington-based Fletcher Consulting

Fletcher has been helping businesses assemble the information and apply for the grants. He did a similar service for the Tarrant County businesses that applied for funds through the  American Rescue Plan Act through the county. 

Fletcher said many restaurants that survived the initial pandemic lockdown are still feeling some residual impacts, such as paying more for employees and, more recently, increases in the costs of food.

Restaurants need to show at least $20,000 worth of damage from the pandemic to qualify, Fletcher said. 

“That’s a pretty easy number for most restaurants to get to,” he said. 

“If you’re paying $8,000 a month rent for three months and you’re not taking customers, that’s $24,000 worth of damage, right there.” 

Wildwood’s Garner said the pandemic has changed how restaurants do business and many are still adjusting.

“We feel fortunate to have survived as many people did not,” Wildwood’s Garner said. “We’re still seeing some impacts from the pandemic, from how we maintain employees to the costs of supplies. It changed things.” 
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Bob Francis

Bob Francis is business editor for fortworthreport.org. He has been covering business news locally and nationally for many years. He can be reached at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org