Restaurant and Bar Support Fund

Restaurant & Bar Support Fund officially launches in Ontario

The Fund aims to raise $5 million to help a minimum of 1,000 food and beverage establishments across the province in 2021

The Ontario Restaurant and Bar Support Fund has officially launched with the aim of offering financial support to the province’s struggling foodservice operations.

The Fund is a registered not-for-profit organization intent on saving as many food and beverage establishments and jobs in Ontario as possible via generous one-time grants. The goal is to raise $5 million to distribute to at least 1,000 businesses to help cover their bills and routine expenses, with no expectation of repayment. It is open to eligible Ontario restaurants, bars, pool halls, pubs, sports bars, and other establishments.

Officially launched on March 4, 2021, this is a collaborative effort between industry professionals.

GotSkill? Games President Tony Carvalho has helped to lead the charge. He tells RestoBiz he and his collaborators were inspired by similar schemes in the U.S.

“It’s important to help these establishments and we are committed to supporting as many small businesses and entrepreneurs as we can through this difficult period of time,” Carvalho says. “We saw something like this in the States and we thought why not us? Why not Ontario?”

GotSkill?, which works with clients in Canadian foodservice, had previously given over 190 of its restaurant, bar, and entertainment partners a total of more than $400,000 to help offset costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This time around, they wanted to extend that assistance to the wider industry.

“We thought what else can we do?” Carvalho adds. “We didn’t want to limit it to our clients, it’s for any bar or restaurant in Ontario to participate. We did the math and we decided to set a high target of $5 million to try and help at least 1,000 bars and restaurants in Ontario. There’s no exclusivities and we’re going to give the money back to bars in grants.” Those grants will be handed out by an independent committee with no ties to any specific restaurants or establishments.

The Fund organizers have set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money, and GotSkill? has kicked in $25,000 to get things started.

“We have Labatt’s and Steam Whistle, on board by launch day,” says Carvalho. “People don’t have a lot of money going spare right now but we are challenging everyone who supplies goods and services to these establishments to set up and do something”  

Indeed, the initiative already has some high-profile advocates. Former NHL and Toronto Maple Leafs star Darryl Sittler is on board. Others, celebrities will be announced.  Once the ball is rolling and momentum is growing, the organizers have their sights on attracting more celebrities in the food and drink business such as Dan Ackroyd and Ryan Reynolds.

Darryl Sittler is enthusiastic about the Fund. “This is a great initiative to help our local restaurants, pubs, and sport bars that mean so much both to our neighbourhoods and communities,” he says. “These small establishment owners are finding it very challenging right now. We hope the grant money will make a difference for them.”

The GoFundMe asks people to donate a modest amount of $25, what Carvalho describes as the cost of an average meal at a restaurant. “That’s not going to break anybody and if enough people do it, I think we’ll more than achieve the $5 million.”

The website has an easy application and grant money for approved applications will be e-transferred to establishments within 10 business days of receipt of all required information and documentation. 100 per cent of funds received will be distributed to applicants, and all fund operation costs are donated by the founding partners.

Eligible applicants are Ontario-based and owned businesses that employ three to 20 full-time staff, have been operating since January 2019 but were closed for in-house service due to COVID-19 restrictions. They must have been approved for one of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), Ontario Small Business Support Grant, or otherwise clearly provide financial documentation showing a 50 per cent decline in revenue against a comparable 2019 month. The business must be open to the public for in-house service at the time they funds are granted and committed to remain open.

The primary aim is to provide much-needed support for the industry and ensure there is light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel.

“When this is all over, let’s make sure we have places to dine in, to have a drink and have fun and socialize with friends,” urges Carvalho. “That’s why this fund’s important.”

The Grant Program opens for applications on March 16, 2021.

The Restaurant & Bar Support Fund website has full details for both businesses looking for assistance and for donors looking to contribute to the Fund at www.RestaurantandBarSupportFund.ca

There is a GoFundMe page for patrons who wish to donate: www.gofundme.com/ontario-restaurant-and-bar-support-fund.

There are also corporate partnership opportunities with the Fund.

For more information, contact Tony Carvalho at tonyc@rabsfund.ca  |  416.276.5663

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