TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s tourism industry is a main source of income in the state, and like many industries, it was hit hard by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the relief programs passed by the federal government under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund gave the country’s struggling dining establishments a much-needed boost to stay open.

Tampa Bay restaurants received more than $216 million in RRF awards to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to documentation from the Small Business Administration, the program was established by the American Rescue Plan Act, the first major legislative item from the Biden Administration. The RRF was built to “provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open.”

The RRF gives restaurants funding equal to their pandemic-related losses, to the tune of millions of dollars each. For businesses with multiple locations, applicants could be awarded up to $10 million, but no more than $5 million per physical location.

The funds are technically a loan, but as long as they’re used by March 11, 2023 and for what the SBA calls eligible uses, they won’t necessarily have to pay it back.

To be able to receive the assistance, businesses must provide documentation with their application that on-site sales to the public comprised at least 33% of gross receipts in 2019, according to SBA guidance.

Applications for funding have to be at least $1,000. Restaurants applying for RRF loans could also apply for Paycheck Protection Program funding, but if they’re applying for both, the amount for just the RRF application still has to be $1,000 on its own.

According to the SBA, “if Applicant X has a reduction in revenue of $2,000 but has a PPP loan for $1,500, the Applicant’s application will not be approved for processing and funding because the net funding calculation is less than $1,000.”

The funding could be used for a variety of needs, including payroll, mortgage obligations on the business, business rent payments, debts, utilities, maintenance expenses, construction of outdoor seating, supplies including protective equipment and cleaning materials, food and beverage expenses such as raw materials for beer, wine or spirits, covered supplier costs that are essential for operations and other normal operating expenses.

Nearly 101,000 businesses were awarded funds by the SBA from the RRF, and almost 6,000 were in Florida. Nationally, the loans paid out total more than $28.5 billion between 100,650 businesses. Across the 5,710 businesses in Florida to receive funding, more than $1.3 billion was awarded.

Zooming in on Tampa Bay, 1,237 businesses were collectively awarded roughly $216.3 million, as of Aug. 1, 2021.

The top 10 awards to Tampa Bay businesses went to:

  1. Saddlebrook Resorts in Wesley Chapel – $5 million
  2. Irish 31 Pub and Eatery in Tampa – $2,343,574
  3. Buffet City in Brooksville – $1,772,829
  4. Bascom’s Steakhouse in Clearwater – $1,734,691
  5. Chili’s on 6th Street in Winter Haven – $1,705,285
  6. Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar in Sarasota – $1,688,438
  7. Heather Perkins, Caterer in Sarasota – $1,685,677
  8. The Getaway Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg – $1,587,912
  9. Mr. and Mrs. Crab in Brandon – $1,522,658
  10. Golden Corral on US 27 in Lake Placid – $1,507,845

Want to see the full list, and which of your favorite Tampa Bay restaurants got a piece of the RRF pie? Check it out on WFLA.com.