Updated: April 06, 2021 07:55 PM
Created: April 06, 2021 01:19 PM
AMSTERDAM - For almost 100 years, Russo's Grill in Amsterdam has been serving up Italian food.
It's been a tough time for local restaurants.
"We didn't make any money during the first months of the pandemic," said owner Mike Russo. "We just stayed open to keep our employees employed and to try to keep our business afloat. And then when the PPP money came through, that was a big shot in the arm for us, that really helped us, and we're very grateful for that."
Standing outside Russo's, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talked about the new restaurant relief fund with grants through the Small Business Administration.
"What's on the menu here at Russo's and at so many restaurants across our state? Relief," said Senator Schumer, holding up a Russo's menu.
Schumer said the flexible grants can be used for everything from payroll to supplies to rent.
Local restaurants need to apply. Big restaurant chains are not eligible.
"The senator gave you that recipe for success that was the American Rescue Plan and one of the greatest ingredients of that recipe was the restaurant relief fund," said Rep. Paul Tonko (D - Amsterdam).
The New York Restaurant Association reports more than half of New York restaurants would not survive the next six months without federal relief.
Schumer said help is also on the way in the form of stimulus checks, more vaccines, and money to open schools full time soon.
Jenna Dodd is an Amsterdam mother of two.
"I'm a single mom, I'm a teacher," said Dodd. "During the pandemic, my kids had to report back to school just a couple days a week, but I was in, I was teaching, so I had to find childcare and that was a huge unexpected cost that I had. So now with the stimulus check, everything's starting to balance out finally."
Schumer said in this critical time of recovery, direct relief is on the way.
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