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Which NYC Restaurants Pulled in Millions of Pandemic Aid?

Masa, Momofuku, Peter Luger, and more were among the restaurants granted the most funds

Estiatorio Milos at Hudson Yards Gary He/Eater

Some of the country’s most expensive tasting menu spots, most highly funded restaurant groups, and most ubiquitous chains — including Momofuku, Masa, and Panera Bread — were among the New York establishments receiving millions from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, the central U.S. lifeline to the devastated hospitality industry. The $28.6 billion fund, which is now depleted, also awarded grants to scores of smaller, cash strapped venues — but shut out nearly two-thirds of local applicants.

Those are the chief takeaways from the Small Business Administration’s big Freedom of Information Act release last week, detailing which bars and restaurants received funding.

The SBA received more than 27,000 applications from across New York State for $9.63 billion in funding; the agency was able to fulfill just just under 9,800 of those requests, issuing $3.6 billion in grant money.

Grants are designed to make up for a restaurant’s full pandemic losses, up to $5 million for a single venue, or up to $10 million for a restaurant group with fewer than 20 locations.

Among the biggest New York recipients: Lucky Strike, a California-based bowling alley chain with a temporarily closed location on 42nd Street, received $10 million, as did Sweet Hospitality, which provides concessions to Broadway theaters. P.J. Clarke’s, a popular spot for burgers and oysters, also split $10 million among multiple locations. And David Chang’s Momofuku, backed by the billionaire-funded RSE Ventures, was awarded $6.8 million for restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, an amount that a spokesperson for Momofuku said “doesn’t even cover our losses.”

Mighty Quinn’s, an acclaimed barbecue chain, received $5.8 million, per Nation’s Restaurant News. Masa, the country’s most expensive sushi spot, received $5 million, as did the Peter Luger and Sparks steakhouses, the New Wonjo and Jongro Korean barbecue spots on 32nd Street, the food and beverage options at the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg, old-school Chinese fine dining palace Shun Lee West, and posh seafood emporium Milos in Hudson Yards.

Gabriel Kreuther, who runs one of the city’s top fine dining establishments of the same name, received $4.8 million, while Ilili, the acclaimed Lebanese spot, got just over $4 million. “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio got $2 million for his Long Island restaurant, Small Batch, while the ‘Wichcraft sandwich chain received just over $3 million. Other recipients worth noting include Sardi’s ($4.5 million), Misi ($3.54 million), the Uncle Boons folks ($3 million), Cote ($2.84 million), Junoon ($2.81 million), Atomix and Atoboy ($1.87 million), and Llama San ($1.67 million).

Temporarily closed establishments are still eligible for aid, which explains why Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune received just under $2 million. Permanently shuttered establishments, by contrast, are ineligible, which calls into question the nearly $4 million allotment for Smith’s in Times Square.

Overall, 39 percent of the grant money nationwide went to restaurants receiving anywhere from $1-$10 million in funds, but the average loan size was closer to $283,000. Accordingly, quite a few smaller New York spots received funding as well, including the West African-leaning Teranga ($334,000), Peppa’s Jerk Chicken ($307,000), the Sichuan noodle shop Chong Qing Xiao Mian, ($197,000), and the Corner Slice pizzeria ($14,000).

Publicly traded companies were ineligible, but franchise owners could apply, which explains why one of the state’s largest awards, at $6.72 million, went to the holder of a local group of Panera Bread stores. A White Plains Buffalo Wild Wings also received $3.26 million, while a McDonald’s in Flushing got $602,000. All told, fast food outlets received well over $10 million across the state.

Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen, a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition that lobbied for the restaurant fund to be established in the first place, was among those left behind in the funding process. Cohen told FSR Magazine this week that she has never been this close to closing. Rawlston Williams, whose tiny Caribbean-leaning Food Sermon was denied a grant as well, told Eater his restaurant would have to shutter if “things continue the way they are.”

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund initially prioritized small businesses owners who were women, veterans, or from socially disadvantaged groups, but over 2,900 venues receiving grants haven’t received their funds following lawsuits from MAGA-aligned groups claiming that prioritization was discriminatory.

Congress has introduced legislation seeking to top off the fund with an extra $60 billion, though it will be difficult for any type of quick passage as both chambers turn their attention to massive infrastructure bills.

Following is a select list of local restaurants who received more than $1 million in funding.

  • Lucky Strike: $10 million (temporarily closed Hell’s Kitchen location)
  • Sweet Hospitality: $10 million
  • P.J. Clarke’s: $10 million (multiple locations)
  • Mangia (57th Street and 23rd Street locations): $8.12 million
  • Momofuku restaurant group: $6.8 million.
  • Take Home the Bread: $6.72 million (operator of Panera Bread locations in the Bronx and the Hudson Valley)
  • Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue (four locations): $5.8 million
  • Masa: $5 million
  • Eleven Madison Park: $5 million
  • Amy’s Bread: $5.29 million
  • Mulberry & Vine (BCJR): $5.36 million
  • Milos Hudson Yards: $5 million
  • Keens Steakhouse: $5 million
  • Wan Hao Restaurant Inc: $5 million
  • William Vale Hotel: $5 million
  • Peter Luger: $5 million
  • Sparks Steakhouse: $5 million
  • Benjamin Steakhouse: $5 million
  • River Cafe: $5 million
  • Sarabeth’s: $5 million
  • Koi: $5 million
  • New Wonjo: $5 million
  • Jongro: $5 million
  • Iridium Restaurant & Jazz Club: $5 million
  • Jing Fong: $5 million
  • Seafire Grill: $5 million
  • Pershing Square: $5 million
  • Shun Lee West: $5 million
  • Gabriel Kreuther: $4.87 million
  • Katiroll Company: $4.71 million
  • Sardi’s: $4.5 million
  • Bounce Sporting Club: $4.4 million
  • Global Kitchen: $4.34 million
  • Ilili: $4.16 million
  • Federico’s restaurant: $4.09 million
  • Smith’s Bar (permanently closed): $3.99 million
  • Spring Shabu Shabu: $3.94 million
  • Homestead Steakhouse: $3.6 million
  • Misi: $3.54 million
  • Jin Go Jae: $3.34 million
  • Roberta’s: $3.24 million
  • Royal Palms Shuffleboard: $3.24 million
  • Sophie’s Cuban (three locations): $3.1 million
  • Uncle Boons LLC: $3.08 million
  • Blue Hill (75 Washington Place): $3.02 million
  • Wichcraft Management LLC: $3.01 million
  • Fresco by Scotto: $2.92 million
  • Cake Rules Everything Around Me LLC: $2.87 million
  • Cote: $2.84 million
  • Il Buco Alimentari: $2.82 million
  • Junoon: $2.81 million
  • Golden Unicorn: $2.64 million
  • Mondrian Park Avenue: $2.5 million
  • Small Batch: $2.09 million
  • Jung Sik: $1.9 million
  • Prune: $1.91 million
  • Atomix & Atoboy: $1.87 million
  • Goldbar: $1.68 million
  • Llama San: $1.67 million
  • Corner Bistro: $1.66 million
  • La Goulue: $1.59 million
  • Tribeca Kitchen: $1.52 million
  • Guantanamera: $1.49 million
  • Luoyang Uncle: $1.48 million (permanently closed)
  • Don Antonio: $1.48 million
  • Serafina Tribeca: $1.24 million
  • Pig & Khao: $1.16 million
  • Lan Sheng: $1.13 million
  • Nom Wah: $1.1 million
  • The Butcher’s Daughter: $1.09 million
  • Cienfuegos: $1.05 million
  • Fat Radish: $1.05 million

Disclosure: David Chang is producing shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater staff member is involved in the production of those shows, and this does not impact coverage on Eater.

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