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LA County to restart grant applications for restaurants after online crash

Keep LA County dining grant program

City News Service | 12/7/2020, 10:44 a.m.
A Los Angeles County website facilitating $30,000 grant applications for restaurants...
Good To Go, Jamaican and American Cuisine, purchased Igloos with the grant in order to offer heated outdoor dining.

A Los Angeles County website facilitating $30,000 grant applications for small restaurants will go online today after crashing last week.

The new portal for the Keep LA County Dining Grant Program is scheduled to open at 8 a.m. Monday and remain available until 5 p.m. Tuesday, or until 2,500 applications are received, whichever comes first. Applications can be accessed at keeplacountydining.lacda.org. User accounts created within the previous system are no longer valid.

The program for small-business restaurant owners was to help them economically survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic after the Los Angeles County temporarily closed in-person outdoor dining last week. But officials with the Los Angeles County Development Authority -- which is administering the grants -- said the website crashed due to the "surge'' of applicants.

LACDA officials announced Saturday that the technical issues had been resolved.

Officials said they have contacted registrants who submitted completed applications and advised that there is no need to re-register. Applicants who registered but were unable to complete the process have also been contacted via email and provided details on how to proceed. All other applicants will be required to re-register through the program's new application portal.

Elisa Vasquez, a spokeswomen for LACDA, told City News Service on Thursday that about 6,000 applicants tried to start an account through the portal and it crashed. Vasquez said only one application had been fully submitted.

"Clearly, the need is great and we are working diligently to bring the application back online,'' LACDA Executive Director Emilio Salas said.

"Restaurant owners and operators should be assured that this grant program is still available and we are committed to supporting our small, local businesses during this difficult time.''

Eligible restaurants for the program must be located within the county, excluding the cities of Los Angeles and Pasadena, and have fewer than 25 employees and no more than five locations total. Pop-up locations and food trucks do not qualify.

A total of roughly $5.6 million will be split equally among the five county supervisorial districts, with priority given to restaurants that were operating outdoor dining on Nov. 24, just before the recent ban took effect.

The funding is intended to be used for working capital needs such as meeting payroll, paying outstanding expenses and funding changes required to stay open during the spread of COVID-19.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who opposed the county's recent decision to temporarily end in-person dining, said restaurants have made "incredible sacrifices'' to align with public safety protocols.

"These restaurants -- the vast majority of which employ fewer than 25 people -- truly represent the small business community that drives the county's economic engine,'' Barger said. "The recent health officer orders to close in-person dining was a devastating blow and as a result, the board identified the need to immediately deploy grant funding to support these impacted small businesses.''

Small-business restaurant owners who apply must demonstrate that their business was impacted by COVID-19 through hardship due to closure and a reduction in revenue.

Owners must also be prepared to provide tax returns from 2018 or 2019, a current business license, a copy of the inspection grade card issued by the Department of Public Health, organizational documents and other information. Applicants notified of a grant will have a maximum of three days to provide missing information.

No restaurant with a less than a C rating from local health officials will be eligible. Businesses that have already received assistance from other Los Angeles County Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act programs are also ineligible.

More information can be found at keeplacountydining.lacda.org/#grant or by calling 626-943-3833.