Connecticut sending out relief checks to restaurants, hotels this week
This week, around 1,700 hospitality businesses will start receiving one-time relief checks from the state of Connecticut. The money is part of a $30 million fund created with federal American Rescue Plan money.
El Segundo in South Norwalk is expecting a check. The restaurant is now closed on Mondays due to rising inflation and a lingering pandemic worker shortage.
"As you see, it's empty,” said El Segundo’s owner and chef Carlos Baez. “We don't do anymore either lunch or dinner on Mondays."
State leaders picked Baez’s restaurant to announce the new Connecticut Hospitality Industry Support Program. To qualify, existing businesses must have a 15% revenue drop between 2019 and 2021. New restaurants will get at least $7,500, while existing establishments can get up to $50,000. Businesses do not have to apply; the state identified eligible businesses through tax filings.
And it's not just restaurants. Breweries, wineries, and hotels qualify, too. The hotel industry says it’s still struggling.
"We continue to need to see the corporate demand return -- you know, the business travel, the conventions,” said Duane Schroder, president of the Connecticut Lodging Association.
Restaurants are still dealing with a shortage of workers.
"We hope that more people are encouraged to come back and find a job in this industry,” said Connecticut Restaurant Association president Scott Dolch. “Ten percent of our state's workforce is in the hospitality sector."
But at El Segundo, they can't even think about hiring new workers yet. They need this money just for basic expenses.
"We just try to stay above water,” said Baez. “We're not making any money. We're just keeping the doors open."
And maybe -- one day -- the doors can reopen on Mondays.