Los Angeles County’s Keep LA County Dining program has received 2,500 requests for $30,000 grants and is no longer accepting applications.
The website facilitating grant applications for small restaurants crashed last week and then went back online Monday. It was not immediately clear how long it took for the maximum number of applications to be filed, but the site currently bears a message saying that the application limit has been reached and referring users to other state and city resources.
The program for small-business restaurant owners was established to help them economically survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic after Los Angeles County closed in-person outdoor dining.
However, officials with the Los Angeles County Development Authority — which is administering the grants — said the website crashed due to the “surge” of applicants.
LACDA officials announced Saturday that the technical issues had been resolved.
Officials said they contacted registrants who submitted completed applications and advised that there is no need to re-register. Applicants who registered but were unable to complete the process were also contacted via email and provided details on how to proceed.
Elisa Vasquez, a spokeswoman for LACDA, told City News Service on Thursday that about 6,000 applicants tried to start an account through the portal and it crashed. Vasquez said only one application had been fully submitted.
Eligibility was limited to restaurants within the county, excluding Los Angeles and Pasadena, with fewer than 25 employees and no more than five locations. Pop-up locations and food trucks did not qualify.
Roughly $5.6 million will be divided equally among the five county supervisorial districts, with priority given to restaurants that were operating outdoor dining on Nov. 24, just before the recent ban took effect.
The funding is intended to be used for working capital needs such as meeting payroll, paying outstanding expenses and funding changes required to stay open during the spread of COVID-19.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who opposed the county’s recent decision to temporarily end in-person dining, said restaurants have made “incredible sacrifices” to align with public safety protocols.
“These restaurants — the vast majority of which employ fewer than 25 people — truly represent the small business community that drives the county’s economic engine,” Barger said.
“The recent health officer orders to close in-person dining was a devastating blow and as a result, the board identified the need to immediately deploy grant funding to support these impacted small businesses.”
Small-business restaurant owners applying must demonstrate that their business was impacted by COVID-19 through hardship due to closure and a reduction in revenue.
Owners must also be prepared to provide tax returns from 2018 or 2019, a current business license, a copy of the inspection grade card issued by the Department of Public Health, organizational documents and other information. Applicants notified of a grant will have a maximum of three days to provide missing information.
No restaurant with a less than a C rating from local health officials will be eligible. Businesses that have already received assistance from other Los Angeles County Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act programs are also ineligible.
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