A new government grant program known as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will provide relief to thousands of restaurants still struggling with surviving the pandemic.
Monday was the first day restaurants got the chance to apply for that funding and some in North Alabama have already taken advantage.
"We've already applied," Steve Bunner, the part owner and executive chef at 1892 East Restaurant & Tavern, said.
Bunner said he wasted no time applying for the SBA's funding to help his restaurant in downtown Huntsville.
If approved for funding, restaurants can get up to $10 million through the grants. They can use that money to pay staff, utility bills or any other revenue because of pandemic-related losses over the past year.
Bunner has had his fair share of issues throughout that time, including having to make difficult decisions.
"We had to fire our entire staff," he said.
They have been able to get almost half their staff back and the business operating on limited hours, but more issues have come up.
"There are supply issues that are occurring, whether it's catfish or oils or to-go packaging, so we're having to be very nimble because we're getting new and almost interesting challenges every week," he said.
"You deal with ice storms, you deal with power outages; none of us had a plan in our back pocket about a pandemic," Bunner said.
Bunner isn't alone in this.
"This area does seem to still be struggling desperately to bounce back completely where they were a year ago," Tish Hardric, the CEO of Tish Hardric & Associates, said.
Hardric's company, a consulting firm, helps small businesses apply for grants like the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. She said she urges any restaurant to apply for this funding.
"Take advantage of this opportunity. This is an opportunity that is absolutely incredible for the restaurant industry," she said.
For the first three weeks, only women, veterans or socially and economically disadvantaged restaurants will be processed. After those three weeks, other applicants will be processed and approved in the order they came in.