The Mysterious Requirements of the SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund (SBA RRF)

It’s that time again. It’s time for business owners to form a cargo cult culture surrounding mysterious government funding initiatives.

Early in the month, the SBA RRF was released. The SBA RRF is intended to give restaurants that lost money during COVID help. Priority applicants were taken first — and then everyone else. The money was quickly expended.

As with the earlier EIDL and PPP loans, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in how applicants are being processed. Without any communication, applicants are left guessing as to what they should do, how they should file, and whether they’re being processed.

Perhaps more frustrating, there’s little a restaurant owner can do to improve their odds.

What’s the Status Now?

Like EIDL and PPP, applicants don’t really know how long the process will take. Some appear to have received funding within a few days. Others are still waiting, despite filing when the portal opened (at the beginning of the month).

It appears that applicants could have hastened the process by:

  • Producing statements reviewed by a CPA company.
  • Producing all the documents requested in full.

But it’s too late for that now; all the applications that will be collected have been collected.

For some, the “IRS Verification” process takes weeks. For others, it hangs on the submissions process. Some people had incredible volumes of documents requested — including proof of income and expenses. Others were immediately processed without a hitch.

Women, minorities, and veterans were given priority application status. But this wasn’t verified, so it didn’t matter; people applied as they desired. Those in the priority class were still waiting to hear back from the SBA when the applications opened to non-priority members.

The Big Red Button

But we talked about cargo cult culture. Absent anything else to watch, Redditors seem to have noticed that the “red button” asking whether you want to withdraw your application appears to disappear at some point. They have guessed:

  • That this is when money has been set aside for your loan.
  • That this is when you’re in the final stage of funding.
  • That this means you’ve gone through the review process.

Like much of Reddit, this is probably nothing more than a pernicious myth. Assumptions are repeated as fact. All that’s really known is the “withdraw” button disappears at some point, likely when there’s no more reason to withdraw — when the given materials have been processed. It’s unknown whether applications have been denied after the withdrawal button disappears.

Getting the SBA RRF

It’s too late to apply; the portal has been closed. For anyone who has applied, it’s nothing more than a waiting game. There’s no way to inquire as to how long it will take and there’s no way to estimate how long it will take. Further, because the documents requested are inconsistent, it’s not really possible to assume that you’ll be approved.

On the other hand, few have reported being outright denied. Instead, more have reported getting caught in loops of document requests — which sends the individual back to review and processing. For what it’s worth, my own restaurant’s application appears to have been denied because I didn’t have my social security card to scan; I lost it during a move not long ago.

AFAIK, no one else mentioned being asked for one.

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