ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It's no secret the COVID-19 pandemic hit many locally-owned restaurants very hard.
"We've been doing alright in the summer months with the outdoor seating. We have a large outdoor area, but we are concerned about the winter months, the justified concerns about feeling safe," said Art Rogers, chef-owner of Lento.
Rogers says at one point, they had to lay off all their staff before bringing them back. He says they've definitely seen a loss of revenue.
"The fall is generally one of our busiest, best times and we have seen a big drop, all COVID related," said Rogers.
To help businesses like Rogers', Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced the county is committing $15 million in CARES funding to support businesses in the personal service industry. Businesses with two to 50 employees will be eligible to apply for the grant.
"This direct infusion of resources will help countless small businesses turn the corner and survive. Instead of wondering how the bills will be paid, when their employees will receive their next paycheck," said Bello.
The Fast Forward Monroe Small Businesses Grant Program will allocate $10,000 for qualifying businesses with two or fewer employees, $15,000 for businesses with three to 25 employees, and $20,000 for establishments with up to 50 employees. Business owners in the Village Gate were happy to hear the news.
"Everyone here in the Village Gate that I know of has lost business, because you're losing diners that won't eat inside because of the COVID virus," said Tom Polizzi, co-owner of Polizzi's.
"This is what we need more than anything is cash to pay payroll, pay utilities, pay rent," said Rogers.
The deadline for small businesses to apply is November 2. The application can be found here.