Los Angeles County officials said Saturday that they’ve fixed the problem that caused a website facilitating grant applications for small restaurants to crash, and a new application program will go online Monday.
The new portal for the Keep LA County Dining Grant Program is scheduled to open at 8 a.m. Monday and remain available until 5 p.m. Tuesday, or until 2,500 applications are received, whichever comes first. Applications can be accessed at keeplacountydining.lacda.org. User accounts created within the previous system are no longer valid.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Development Authority said they’ve contacted registrants who submitted a completed application and advised that there is no need to re-register. Applicants who registered but were unable to complete the process have also been contacted via email and provided details on how to proceed. All other applicants will be required to re-register through the program’s new application portal.
The program is intended for owners of small restaurants, who may be eligible for $30,000 in COVID-19 relief grants.
Elisa Vasquez, a spokesperson for LACDA, which is administering the grants, told City News Service on Thursday that about 6,000 applicants tried to start an account through the portal and it crashed within an hour of opening to applications. Vasquez said only one application had been fully submitted.
“Clearly, the need is great and we are working diligently to bring the application back online,” LACDA Executive Director Emilio Salas said. “Restaurant owners and operators should be assured that this grant program is still available and we are committed to supporting our small, local businesses during this difficult time.”
The program for the small-business restaurant owners was to help them economically survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic after the county temporarily closed in-person outdoor dining on Nov. 25. Officials with the LCDA said the website crashed due to the “surge” of applicants.
To be eligible, restaurants must meet ALL of the following criteria:
- Have a fixed brick and mortar location with a full-service kitchen. (Pop ups and food trucks are NOT eligible).
- Have less than 25 employees.
- Be located within Los Angeles County, but NOT in the Cities of Los Angeles or Pasadena.
- Must not have more than five business locations. Those with multiple locations, but with five or less, may only submit one application.
- Must NOT be a corporate-owned franchise.
- Have a current inspection grade of “C” or better.
- Were established and operating no later than March 4, 2020.
Owners must be prepared to provide tax returns from 2018 or 2019 and be able to provide proof their business was impacted by COVID-19 through hardship due to closure and a reduction in revenue.
Owners must also be prepared to show their current business license, a copy of the inspection grade card issued by the Department of Public Health, organizational documents and other information. Applicants notified of receiving a grant will have a maximum of three days to provide missing information.
Businesses that have already received assistance from other Los Angeles County Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act programs are NOT eligible to receive these grants.
A total of roughly $5.6 million will be split equally among the five county supervisorial districts, with priority given to restaurants that were operating outdoor dining on Nov. 24, just before the recent ban took effect.
The funding is intended to be used for working capital needs such as meeting payroll, paying outstanding expenses and funding changes required to stay open during the spread of COVID-19.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who opposed the county’s recent decision to temporarily end in-person dining, said restaurants have made “incredible sacrifices” to align with public safety protocols.
“These restaurants — the vast majority of which employ fewer than 25 people — truly represent the small business community that drives the county’s economic engine,” Barger said. “The recent health officer orders to close in-person dining was a devastating blow and as a result, the board identified the need to immediately deploy grant funding to support these impacted small businesses.”