COVID-19 Justice

Michigan restaurants got $780M in COVID aid, but left many out in the cold

Recipients include at least one Kalamazoo restaurant that shut down.

The funds were meant to help keep restaurants afloat during the pandemic. In many cases they did just that, but most businesses that applied didn’t get any money at all.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund distributed more than $780 million among 3,300 businesses in Michigan. Some received millions, while others – especially small businesses – received little to nothing from the COVID relief program.

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In at least one case, a restaurant received more than a million dollars after it shut its doors.

According to data published by the Small Business Administration and compiled by MLive, The Union LLC got more than $1.5 million in federal aid. The Union Cabaret and Grill in downtown Kalamazoo closed its doors in November of 2020. That was several months before the restaurant aid program was passed by Congress.

On the other end of the spectrum is Tempo Vino Winery, also in downtown Kalamazoo. It received just over $2,000 in federal assistance, though it isn’t known how much it applied for. That business is still open and operating.

In all, restaurants in Kalamazoo County pulled in more than $20 million in aid from the federal program.


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