A government grant to help businesses pay for new safety measures because of COVID-19 is having big impacts on local restaurants.
Bruno’s Pizza in Bismarck is one of many that received the Economic Resiliency Grant, which is distributed by the state’s Commerce Department.
The owner says he used the funds to buy signs, masks for customers who want one and temperature scanning kiosks that will be set up at the entrance in about a week. He adds that the costs of cheese, pizza boxes and gloves have gone up significantly, but the grant has helped Bruno’s stay afloat without raising prices or cutting advertising.
“The grant’s been unbelievable,” said Bruno’s Pizza Owner Brandon Ralph. I think the government’s made a really good decision on how to disperse that. We ended up utilizing it instead of taking away from other areas — advertising, quality of product. We ended up getting this grant to balance out the financials.”
Bennigan’s in Mandan is another business benefiting from the grant. Co-owner Robert Knoll is adding outdoor patio seating, new touchless features to the bathroom and an air purification system, among other updates. He said he received $48,000 from the grant and has 45 days from when he received it last week to spend it.
“What we’re excited about with this grant is that it’s going to help with consumer confidence,” Knoll said. “Knowing when they come in here, they’re going to be safer. We want our guests to be safe, and we’re doing what we can.”
The Economic Resiliency Grant is funded by $66 million through the CARES Act.