Small businesses are struggling, with many going out of business as they attempt to cope with COVID-19 in 2021. The pandemic is still going strong, with new record high infections being reported in states across the country.

Many small businesses have to deal with a changing operating environment that is set on the state level.

Some states allow businesses to operate close to normal, while others have venues that are too small for people to adequately remain at a safe distance. Even when restrictions are more relaxed, there are fewer people supporting small businesses.

Restaurants have been impacted the most due to restrictions.

Over the last six months, at least 4 million Americans have been out of work, with many being out of work for even longer. A lot of these individuals are restaurant workers that are trying to find work in a very competitive market as restaurants try to reopen.

Barstool Fund Me

David Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, has created the Barstool Fund Me. The fund is designed to help small businesses, particularly restaurants that are struggling due to the pandemic.

The fund has been a major success, with over $22.4 million raised so far. Over 174,900 people have donated to the fund, which has supported 110 businesses so far.

Anyone can contribute to the fund, and applicants can apply to receive money from the fund if they’re small business owners that have had their business impacted due to COVID.

Barstool Sports Founder David Portnoy has created Barstool Fund Me to help small businesses, in particular restaurants that are struggling. When accepted, the business has their establishment added to the page, allowing anyone that wants to donate to contribute to each business’s fund.

When donating, 100% of the funds will go to small businesses, and all donations are tax deductible contributions.

In Texas, Mack’s Tenders is one of the businesses that have benefitted from the fund that Barstool Sports started. The owner, Greg Vogt, runs the operation in Cypress, Texas.

ABC 13 reports that Mack’s Tenders was just days away from going bankrupt when Barstool Sports called him on Christmas Day. He says that he was about 30 days out from shutting down before the fund helped supply his business with the money needed to cover payroll.

The business went from record sales to almost losing a dream of owning the business.

When he applied to the fund, he was asking for help covering payroll for six months. The Christmas Day call saved Mack’s Tenders. Barstool shared the call to Vogt with their fans, leading to the business breaking sales records from the promotion.

The fund has been able to keep many businesses alive, but it also shows firsthand how more help is needed and restrictions have harmed many local businesses.

If you want to donate to the Barstool Fund, you can do so at the official site here.

Why Restaurants Continue to Struggle

Cities and states across the country have focused on indoor dining, due to the lack of circulation and space, to quell the spread of the coronavirus. New York City, for example, decided to halt indoor dining again on December 14.

The measures are not unique, as cities across the country have imposed similar restrictions.

Colder weather makes outdoor dining impractical and has led to many establishments only offering takeout. The measures, while they may make sense in terms of health, are causing many restaurants to struggle to pay their bills.

Even when capacity limits are at 30%, restaurants still need to pay the same rates for rent, utilities and other fixed costs. With less revenue, it’s almost impossible for these restaurants to remain open.

Difficulties managing a restaurant during the COVID pandemic include:

  • Switching to carry out and delivery have led to logistic issues for businesses that rely on in-house guests to support the business
  • Supply shortages have led to restaurants struggling to obtain cleaning and sanitization products needed to remain operational and within health department guidelines
  • Masks and gloves add to the cost of operations
  • Staff has been limited, with many staff members unwilling to or unable to return to work due to new job commitments. When employees do return and it’s short-lived, it leads to reluctance to reenter the field
  • Hiring their own drivers, which comes with the risk of an insurance claim for an accident or relying on third-party delivery services that cut into profit margins
  • Rule and recommendation changes have led to confusion among staff and owners on what measures should be taken when they reopen

Reopening is also costly, with many restaurants forced to market their reopening and spend a substantial amount of money on the opening process. When capacity levels change or new restrictions are imposed, business owners are left trying to figure out what steps should be taken next.

Staying Afloat is a Main Priority

Businesses expect customers to come back in to dine inside once the pandemic is under control. In many states, when regulations were relaxed, customers started to return to the restaurants.

A lot of business owners have criticized the lack of help, especially for small businesses, as the pandemic continues to loom on.

PPP loans were available for a short time and allow businesses to cover costs, such as payroll. The fund quickly dried up, but a new fund is available in 2021 that gives many small businesses hope that they’ll be able to continue running their businesses in the short-term.

Businesses that are deemed most vulnerable will have access to the funding first.

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