Long Island restaurants, bars eligible to apply for federal grant money

A new federal program that could help save restaurants and bars across Long Island is now accepting applications.
Zeshan Hamid is a third-generation restaurant owner and caterer of Hallal foods. He says his business was saved by federal PPP funds last year. Hamid runs Shaneen Restaurant and says he is going to apply for grant money from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is offered to anyone in the food industry.
"First of all, we have to look at what we're going to get," says Hamid. "Then from there we'll say OK, these are the holes we need to plug, this is what we need to do -- maybe we need to invest in some marketing."
Matt Coleman, of the Small Business Administration, says $26.8 billion is now available for a wide variety of uses. Coleman says the money can be applied to payroll expenses, sick leave, business mortgages, utilities, outdoor seating construction and a host of other things.
Economic analyst Marty Cantor says the program could have a major positive impact on Long Island.
"Most of the job losses have been in the hospitality sector and that's who needs the money," says Cantor. "So if you're a restaurant and you've been severely hurt because of the pandemic, you'd be foolish not to apply for this loan. It's free money."
Hamid says he hopes the money will provide the lifeline he needs.
During the first few weeks of the program, grants will only be awarded to business owners who are veterans, women or people considered socially or economically disadvantaged.
To obtain an SBA application for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, call 1-844-279-8898.