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LA County Offers $30K Grant for Restaurants That Needed to Close Outdoor Dining

But there are a whole list of requirements

Outdoor tables are covered with plastic bags to prevent use outside a coffee shop in Glendale, California,
Outdoor tables are covered with plastic bags to prevent use outside a coffee shop in Glendale, California
Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

With restaurants ordered to close outdoor dining setups as of last Wednesday, November 25, cutting off a vital source of income (during what’s normally one of the busiest times of the year for business), LA County’s Development Authority has opened up a program to grant $30,000 to restaurants beginning December 3. The news was first reported by LAist.

The program has a number of requirements, but most notably the business must be a full-service, permanent restaurant (so no pop-ups or food trucks) that opened on or before March 4 (which means anyone who has opened since the start of the pandemic won’t qualify). There are other requirements to know before applying for the $30,000 grant (starting from the top):

  • Must be a permanent, fixed address with a full-service kitchen
  • Must have fewer than 25 employees
  • Located within LA County but not within the City of LA or Pasadena
  • No more than five business locations. Only one application per chain (of under five spots)
  • Not a corporate-owned franchise
  • Current health inspection of at least “C”
  • Restaurant opened on or before March 4, 2020

The requirements raise a few notable questions, especially for potential applicants in the City of LA and Pasadena. It’s unclear why, but restaurants within LA or Pasadena might end up having their own grant programs, while the city of Long Beach also mentioned earlier this week that it would unlock $5 million in grant money to restaurants. Only 2,500 total businesses will be eligible, which means $75 million has been designated by the Development Authority for this temporary relief. The funds cannot be used to pay down Paycheck Protection Program loans, either.

Restaurants that receive the money can only use it for a number of things, specifically working capital like payroll expenses, outstanding business expenses, and other things to stay open.

Other things to know about the application: Restaurants that offered outdoor dining as of November 24 will be prioritized, then funds will be granted to places that did not offer outdoor dining. This seems to acknowledge the specific burden that restaurants that had outdoor dining are bearing throughout the minimum three-week closure as mandated by the county. With surging COVID-19 cases (LA County had more than 6,000 new cases on November 30 alone), it seems unlikely that the outdoor dining closure would only last three weeks.

Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued a number of statewide programs to provide relief to businesses, including an extension to pay sales taxes, and $25,000 grants to small businesses, nonprofits, and institutions. Finally, the Main Street Hiring tax credit gives $1,000 in tax credit per employee to businesses, and up to $100,000.

Applications start at midnight on December 3 (so technically the evening of December 2) and will be accepted until December 6 at 11:59 p.m. or until the limit of 2,500 businesses. With many more restaurants within LA County (but outside of LA and Pasadena), it’s likely many businesses that need the cash won’t get the relief they need this round. But it’s something, especially for workers who have been risking their health to serve diners amid the pandemic.