Restaurants have a long way to go to recover from the last 15 months. It’s one of the industries that suffered the most during the pandemic. Countless food establishments were forced to close their doors for good, while others tried to stay afloat on take-out alone for several months in 2020. Now the Biden administration is launching a new fund to help struggling restaurants.

CNN reports, “Applications for the program opened on Monday. The $28.6 billion fund was established as part of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill the President signed into law earlier this year.”

USA Today reports that Biden visited one of the restaurants receiving support yesterday  (watch above):

Biden paid a Cinco de Mayo visit to Taqueria Las Gemelas, a restaurant in northeast Washington that was one of the first to receive funding under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Biden chatted with the restaurant staff and ordered food to go.

The restaurant, owned in part by Mexican immigrants Yesenia Neri Diaz and Rogelio Martinez, saw its staff shrink from 55 employees to seven during the coronavirus pandemic. The emergency funding will allow the owners to complete delayed projects and provide raises to their staff, the White House said.

Later during an event at the White House, the president said:

“Restaurants are more than a major driver of our economy, they’re woven into the fabric of our communities,” Biden said in a speech at the White House. And so for many families, restaurants are the gateway to opportunity, a key part of the American story.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reacted to the news saying:

“In just a few short days, the landmark Restaurant Revitalization Fund developed by House Democrats and signed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan has already drawn more than 186,000 applications – more than half from restaurants owned by women, veterans or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.  This progress is a great credit to Democrats’ tireless work to outreach and engagement to ensure that vulnerable communities take full advantage of the resources available to them.”