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Montgomery restaurateurs have varying reactions to federal relief funds

Montgomery restaurateurs expressed different reactions to federal relief funds. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 9:10 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Customers travel from far and wide to get a taste of Plant Bae. The Montgomery restaurant has been serving up vegan dishes since opened in May 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.

“It was just a lot of unknowns,” Plant Bae owner Quebe Merritt said.

She mentioned one of those unknowns was getting a permit while the world was shut down.

The owner said business is going well, but finding enough staff during a worker shortage has been tricky. She thinks additional funds from the federal government could help.

“They’re calling this time in American history “The Great Resignation,’” she said. “So any funds that we would be able to get would be to kind of keep people here.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act Thursday. $42 billion would go toward eateries in need financial support through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The owner explains she had struggled with other funding in the past.

“I opened in May of 2020. The red tape would be ‘oh, it had to be January 1, 2020.’”

She is optimistic the House bill would help struggling restaurateurs.

Across the city, Dreamland Bar-B-Que is also making sales and filling bellies. However, managing partner Bob Parker believes the Restaurant Revitalization Fund is wasteful if it is not done properly.

“I think it was a disaster last time,” Parker said. “A local restaurant got a million dollars. Another one got 850 that we’re aware of, that are local. Tell me why a restaurant needs a million dollars, free money, from the government.”

He stressed that his restaurants are also dealing with inflation and an employee shortage, but he does not see the benefit of just throwing dollars at the problem.

“The help they gave us last time got us back to where we could survive, but in my mind they caused a lot of the problems that we deal with,” Parked said.

The Relief for Restaurants & Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act passed in the house in a vote of 223-203. It now heads to the Senate.

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