Multnomah County opens applications for restaurant and food cart COVID-19 relief grants



Multnomah County opens applications for restaurant and food cart COVID-19 relief grants

Beginning November 30, licensed restaurants and food carts in Multnomah County can begin applying for small business grants to offset the cost of restrictions from COVID-19. The County will begin distributing more than $7.6 million in CARES Act funds to businesses impacted by efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

The County is making grants available to restaurants, food carts, and bed and breakfasts with five or fewer operator licenses. The funds are part of $55 million in business assistance grants that will be administered by Oregon counties to help small businesses. Early estimates indicate Multnomah County will receive approximately $7.6 million.

Gov. Kate Brown has indicated that counties should prioritize businesses that have been financially impacted by public health measures, with a priority for the hospitality industry, businesses impacted by the freeze, small businesses, and women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Tribal-owned businesses. Multnomah County leads with its values and was pleased to see this set of priorities from the governor.

“We’re focused on getting these funds out the door as quickly as possible,’’ said Chair Deborah Kafoury. “These small businesses are the backbone of our community and we will keep fighting at the state and federal level for more help for their survival.’’

The County estimates that the grants to licensed restaurants will cover about $5.3 million of the total amount available for business relief. “Restaurants have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic and suffered major losses,” said Chair Kafoury. “Many restaurants are struggling to hang on, and we are hoping that these small grants help more businesses make it through this difficult period.” 

The County is currently finalizing plans with partner organizations, including culturally specific organizations and organizations that can focus on East County cities, to distribute the balance of the funding. 

Eligible license holders can start applying for grants today, November 30, 2020. Anyone who has held a valid, Multnomah County-issued food service license between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2020 is eligible to receive assistance. The funds are open to owners with five or fewer permits. Grant amounts are:

  • $500 per license for food carts ($2,500 maximum)

  • $1,500 per license for restaurants and other food service licenses ($7,500 maximum)

The funds can be used for any operational expenses, but cannot be applied to license fees. Businesses include:

  • Restaurants

  • Food carts (mobile units)

  • Caterers

  • Limited service (prepackaged only)

  • Bed and breakfasts

  • Benevolent organizations

“Our operators have lost so much this year, and this won’t relieve the hardship. And at the same time, after a year of being the bearer of bad news, it’s a relief for me to offer some small support,” said Multnomah County Environmental Health Supervisor Jeff Martin. 

“We have a small window to deliver these grants, so please don’t wait. Get your grant application in by Dec. 15.”

An online application and more information are available at multco.us/businessgrantsdec2020.