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New grants mean struggling restaurants in Montgomery County could get $10,000. But is it enough?

Restaurants in Montgomery County impacted by the pandemic can apply for a new grant program beginning on Friday.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Restaurants struggling through the pandemic could receive up to $10,000 in aid as part of a new grant program announced by county leaders on Thursday.

The Restaurant Relief Grant Program will begin taking applications on Friday from local restaurants, food trucks, and caterers as well as wineries and breweries that directly provide food services.

The announcement came as Montgomery County businesses continue to deal with local restrictions, including a 25% capacity limit, due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Beginning on Friday, all Maryland restaurants and bars will also need to close at 10 p.m. as part of a mandate announced by Gov. Larry Hogan this week.

At McGinty's Public House, which opened in 2006 in downtown Silver Spring, the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt every day. Since March, owner Greg Whelan has had to make tough decisions and cuts due to the big loss in revenue brought on by shutdowns and capacity limits.

"At the start, I had 43 people working for us here. I now have 10," he said. "The financial side of it and the scary side of it are still there. They haven't gone away.” 

Whelan said that he was planning on applying for the new grants being awarded to restaurants. However, after months of hardship and lost business, he wondered how far the $10,000 would go.

"It’s a big help for us but in the big picture of things, I’m already in six figures of debt," Whelan said. "There needs to be additional help and very soon.” 

Multiple business owners who have spoken to WUSA 9 about the pandemic have echoed Whelan's calls for help. In particular, owners believe the federal government could do more to help struggling shops and restaurants. 

On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council approved an executive order capping capacity at 25% for retail stores and indoor restaurants. MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. - The Montgomery County Council approved an executive order from County Executive Marc Elrich on Tuesday that will once again limit capacity to 25% inside of restaurants and retail stores while also limiting gatherings to 25 people.

"The feds really need to step up," Whelan said. "The debt just mounts. It’s not going to go away. There needs to be some solution.” 

The Restaurant Relief Grant Program is part of a $50 million project in Maryland announced by Hogan. In total, Montgomery County will receive around $8 million.

Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation Vice President of Communications and Marketing Kristin O'Keefe said on Thursday that hundreds of restaurants and other eateries could receive grants.

"The winter months are coming. We have an increase in COVID-19 cases so it’s really important to get additional support and assistance to our restaurants," she said. "It can be used for things like rent and payroll as well as technology purchases.” 

Moving forward, Greg Whelan said he planned to keep hanging on through the pandemic while hoping for more aid.

"There needs to be more help," he said. "There needs to be significant government help. The feds really need to step up.” 

Montgomery County restaurants have until Dec. 4 to apply for the grants.

More information on the program can be found here. 

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