ALBANY — A restaurant recovery fund of over $3 million meant to help eateries during the COVID-19 pandemic has been set up.

Empire State Development, New York’s primary economic development agency, announced the “Raising the Bar” Restaurant Recovery Fund, according to a news release. The fund is meant to assist restaurants in the state to deal with the impact of the pandemic and adherence to the public health and safety measures during the winter when outdoor dining is limited.

Establishments could receive up to $5,000. Qualifying purchases and expenditures need to be from Sept. 1, 2020 onward to be eligible. The funding was made possible through donations by Diageo North America and supported by Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits, and will be implemented by the non-profit National Development Council.

Initial grant funding will be awarded based on the received applications and given out independently by the development council.

Applications will start to be accepted today at the Empire State Development website at

Grant funding can be used for COVID-19-related improvements and equipment that will allow the business to comply with social distancing guidelines, expand take-out/delivery operations or accommodate outdoor dining such as plexiglass barriers/partitions, signage promoting social distancing and hygiene protocols, heaters, heat lamps, weatherization upgrades and insulated delivery bags.

Funds may also be used for improvements that will allow the business to continue operating through the winter months such as filtration system upgrades and food heaters to maintain temperature for to-go orders and purchasing PPE and sanitation supplies necessitated by the pandemic; and COVID-19 related business improvements like patio heaters or contactless technology.

Eligible businesses are New York state restaurants that have no more than $3 million in 2019 revenue and are engaged in providing food services and meals prepared on-premises to patrons who traditionally order and are served while seated, including certain on-premises food and drinking establishments licensed through the State Liquor Authority (SLA).

Establishments providing takeout or grab-and-go food services due to COVID-19 restrictions are also eligible to receive the grant from NDC.

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