Four Montrose businesses were approved for federal grants this spring, according to data released by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The grants came from the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), created by Congress in March as part of The American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill.
Rose Bowl received $113,647, followed by Jimmers Steak BBQ Bar and Grill, which received a few cents shy of $104,040. Niko’s Tavern grant total was $47,903, and Two Rascals Brewing received $14,303 and some change.
Owners of Niko’s Tavern and Two Rascals could not be reached for comment, and Jim LaRue, owner of Jimmers, declined comment.
According to the SBA, the RRF program provides funding equal to pandemic-related revenue loss for small businesses — the SBA subtracted 2020 gross from 2019 gross for businesses that started operations prior to (or on) Jan. 1, 2019.
The money is considered a huge boost to businesses that experienced hardship and closures in the past year due to the pandemic. For the RRF, there’s no requirement for repayment, and restrictions are limited, with business owners able to spend the federal dollars on most expenses.
For John Bullington, owner of Rose Bowl, the money lends a “safety net” in case of any other potential extended challenges later on, but also helps the venue catch up after experiencing limited financial returns for much of 2020.
“It helps us after being closed last year and getting behind,” Bullington said on Wednesday. “It was rough last year — what can I say.”
Pandemic-related closures forced the Rose Bowl to shut its doors March 23 last year. The venue reopened a few months later, on May 25, but at limited capacity. It wasn’t until early 2021 that the venue was allowed a return to full capacity.
Bullington, who said he planned to invest money back into Rose Bowl for upkeep and upgrades in the arcade before the closure, had to acquire separate financing and opened lines of credit to mitigate diminished revenues.
“It was like hanging over your head all the time thinking, ‘when are you gonna close up?’ People were nervous,” he said.
Despite the uncertainty, Bullington chose to keep all his employees staffed, and that was helped by a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. And the situation never got to a point where Bullington was on the brink of closure.
So far, in 2021, it’s been a march back to normalcy for the venue, with financial returns on par with pre-pandemic years. “I’m appreciative to the community for supporting us, I truly am,” Bullington said. “People have been good to us.”
With the grant, he’s been able to cover costs for the exterior of the building (and update the parking lot) as well as additional updates for the venue’s arcade. The latter was on the to-do-list for “quite some time,” Bullington said.
Now, Bullington is managing the challenge of finding potential employees and supply shortages (he reported having trouble ordering specific food items due to shortages).
Across Colorado, more than 1,700 bars, breweries, restaurants and wineries received RRF funds, totaling around $480 million.
There have been issues with the program, with reports of errors and other business owners turned away for funds due to certain technicalities.
Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press