Almost 30 Cape Ann-based restaurant businesses received $7.75 million in federal pandemic assistance designed to help the beleaguered industry regain its footing, according to a Small Business Administration data base.

The SBA data showed the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund awarded $7,754,583.65 in grants to 28 Cape Ann restaurant ownership groups and individuals "equal to their pandemic-related loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per location."

The beneficiaries do not have to repay the money as long as it is used for eligible uses no later than March 31, 2023. 

The allowable use of the relief money, according to the SBA, included business operating expenses, payroll costs, mortgage payments, rent payments, debt service (principal and interest), utility payments, maintenance costs, construction of outdoor seating, supplies, food and beverage expenses and some supplier expenses. 

In Gloucester, 16 businesses received a total of $4.01 million, with Pratty's CAV at 10 Parker St. ($583,871.93) and MCMC Restaurant Corp., the owner of Short & Main restaurant at 36 Main St. ($569,927), the largest beneficiaries.

In Rockport, six businesses cumulatively collected $1.76 million. The owners of Roy Moore's Fish Shack Restaurant and Bar at 21 Dock Square topped the list at $697,711.58 and the 7th Wave at 7 Tuna Wharf followed with $480,063.20.

In Essex, four restaurant owners combined to receive $1,920,169.29. The Windward Grill at 109 Eastern Ave. received the most of any Cape Ann eating or drinking establishment at $720,749, with Debra Lane, co-owner of Essex Seafood at 143 Eastern Ave., next among Essex recipients at $548,941.

Greenbow Corp., the owner of Shea's Restaurant at 122 Main St. received $390,657.09 and BNFARM LLC, owners of The Farm Bar and Grill at 233 Western Ave. and the Lobster Pool at 329 Granite St. in Rockport, received $259,849.20.

In Manchester, the owners of the Laughing Gull Cafe at 4 Summer St. ($48,292.60) and Allie's Beach Street Cafe at 35 Beach St. ($10,568.95) combined to collect $58,861.55.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, created by Congress in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, awarded $28.6 billion nationally to more than 100,000 restaurant businesses — well short of the demand of industry members hit harder than almost any other industrial sector by COVID-19 restrictions and closures.

According to the Journal of Accountancy, the SBA received more than 278,000 applications for funds from the RRF. And with good reason:

According to a report from the National Restaurant Association, 2020 restaurant sales declined $240 billion from the association's pre-pandemic forecast.

The impact of the industry's economic collapse also is reflected in restaurant closures and the freefall of industry employment rates.

According to the report, as of Dec. 1, 2020, more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments closed and roughly 2.5 million jobs were lost.

The National Restaurant Association estimated that 8 million restaurant employees were laid off or furloughed at the height of the pandemic.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT

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