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Michigan’s Restaurant Association Is Releasing Pandemic Relief Funds for Workers in Need

The trade group is offering up to $500 per qualifying applicant

A restaurant employee in Southwest Detroit stands behind a walk-up table with mask on next to a trompo.
An employee at La Palapa del Parian in Springwells wears a mask on the first day of dine-in service during Detroit’s restaurant reopening on June 8, 2020.
Christian Gerard
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) is offering up to $500 in relief funds to qualifying restaurant workers who’ve been financially impacted as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Applications for the program will open online at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, September 22 and close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 1, per a release.

The extremely limited amount of financial relief is being provided through a $2.5 million grant from the Michigan Department of Treasury to help hospitality workers. Anyone who has evidence of being employed in the hospitality industry on March 10, 2020 and proof that they were either furloughed or laid off after that date can apply for the grant funds. Applications that are accepted prior to the deadline — and before the money runs out — will receive their funds later in October.

The small amount of grant funding is meant to help a handful of the estimated 300,000 Michigan hospitality workers who the MRLA says have lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. As many restaurants have attempted to reopen, they’ve done so primarily with more limited staffs than before, meaning some former food service employees are still without jobs or receiving significantly reduced hours and tips.

As a result, many food service workers are demanding additional relief from the federal government since CARES Act benefits expired at the end of July. Movement on federal relief has been significantly stalled as Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. legislature fight over how much financial assistance is necessary.

The Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund [MRLA]
Washtenaw County Restaurant Workers Rally to Draw Attention to Lapsed Unemployment Benefits, Evictions [ED]
How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Detroit Food and Beverage Industry [ED]