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Laid-off Miami restaurant workers are hurting, but help will be available this week


Federal money earmarked to help Miami-Dade’s out-of-work restaurant employees will be available this week.

Starting Aug. 12, employees of independently owned Miami-Dade County restaurants, hotel restaurants, bars and caterers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for a grant from a $5 million fund, carved out of $474 million in federal CARES Act aid sent to Miami-Dade County.

Florida International University and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival will vet applicants and the United Way will disperse up to $500 to laid-off or furloughed staff, up to $15,000 per restaurant, according to festival founder Lee Schrager. The window to apply opens at noon Aug. 12 at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s website,

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Employees cannot apply directly; their previous employer must apply for them, according to the website.

Last week, a $30 million fund aimed at helping restaurant owners began taking applications at the county website. The county fully lists eligibility requirements at its website.

The county announced the funds in mid-July. The larger program, administered by the Miami-Dade County Small Business Division of the Internal Services Department, will reimburse restaurants for personal protection equipment, up to 80 percent of rent and 50 percent for food and utilities, dating back to when restaurants were first ordered closed on March 16.

FIU and the South Beach festival were chosen to vet applicants since a fund they started in late March, the Hospitality Industry Relief Fund, raised and distributed more than $1.6 million directly to unemployed hospitality workers.

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