PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The U.S. Small Business Administration has released a list of more than 440 Rhode Island businesses that received about $106 million in grants through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
The federal agency released the information last week amid mounting pressure from First Amendment advocates, who demanded greater transparency surrounding the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and its recipients. The program was created as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, which President Biden signed in March.
In Rhode Island, approved grants ranged from a low of $1,594 for Kellies Cafe LLC in Newport to a high of nearly $3 million for Wright’s Farm Corp. in Burrillville. Recipients included restaurants, bar, lounges and businesses with entertainment licenses.
Gulliver’s Tavern Inc., one of the largest recipients with a $1.7 million allocation, runs the well-known Providence strip club Foxy Lady. (The average grant size totaled about $239,000 per recipient, according to separate data provided by the SBA.)
Nationally, the RRF program has come under scrutiny for its rocky rollout. Restaurant groups have criticized it for being woefully underfunded to meet demand from an industry disproportionately pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic.
The program was initially designed to prioritize women, veterans, socially and economically disadvantaged business owners and people with low- to moderate incomes. But the SBA rescinded nearly 3,000 priority applicants that had been approved after several white business owners sued over the prioritization, “and federal judges ruled they were likely to succeed,” according to The New York Times.
A Target 12 analysis of the more than 400 Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants approved in Rhode Island shows about 43% of recipients said they were women-owned, about 29% reported low to moderate incomes, and just 6% said they were veterans. About a quarter reported being socially or economically disadvantaged, according to the data.
Target 12 has provided a full list of the grants and recipients below:
See something interesting on the list? Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.