Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist visited Haab’s Restaurant in Ypsilanti to demonstrate the success of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
Haab’s Restaurant, which opened in 1934, received over $150,000 from the RRF in March. Restaurant owner Mike Kabat was given 12 hours' notice in March 2020 that his restaurant would need to be shut down, and the following year was filled with uncertainty as safety protocols kept evolving.
“We had to lay off a bunch of people because we were not open, and we served to-go meals beginning then until sometime in mid-June of 2020,” Kabat said. “At a certain point, we only were open for takeout from 4 o’clock in the afternoon to 7:30 in the evening because no one was working downtown.”
Kabat said the RRF grant “saved" his business from closing. He credits the RRF for helping with inventory, payroll, property taxes, and a variety of other business expenses.
“It saved our life...We wouldn’t be open,” Kabat said. “There’s no question. Without that, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Businesses that received RRF funding could spend it on the construction of outdoor seating, protective equipment and cleaning materials, payroll for sick leave, and other business expenses.
“Our local restaurants provide jobs, feed us, donate to so many, and help support the hungry, and this pandemic has thrown everything at them,” Dingell said in a written statement. “Haab’s has been a huge part of Ypsi for nearly 90 years and this funding has allowed them to keep their doors open and support their workers throughout the pandemic.”
The American Rescue Plan Act went into effect March 11 and established the RRF to help restaurants and other businesses keep their doors open during the pandemic. The program provides businesses with funding equivalent to their revenue losses due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“There are a lot of expenses not seen by the general public that still go on whether you’re open or not,” Kabat said. “There’s no question in my mind that we would not be here today, and we would not be employing 28 to 30 people if we would not have received the revitalization program grant.”
According to Dingell’s office, Michigan’s 12th District received over $71 million from the American Rescue Plan Act for restaurants and other small food businesses.
“I’m thankful that we passed the American Rescue Plan to provide much-needed assistance to Michigan’s restaurants and small businesses that are the backbone of our economy and a support system for our communities,” Dingell said in a written statement.
While appearing at Haab’s, Gilchrist expressed he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s commitment to supporting small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our administration is laser-focused on creating opportunities for Michigan’s small businesses and throughout the pandemic, we implemented 23 economic relief programs that delivered over $240 million to small businesses in all 83 Michigan counties,” Gilchrist said in a written statement. “As we move forward with Michigan’s economic jumpstart, Governor Whitmer and I are committed to continuing to prioritize small businesses.”