The Pierce County Council is establishing a new program aimed at keeping local restaurants open.

The council announced recently that it has allocated $18.5 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act monies to provide additional assistance to veterans and residents negatively impacted by COVID-19.

The council has dedicated $7.5 million from its federal CARES Act allocation to create a program that would offer a 30 percent discount to dine-in customers, excluding alcohol purchases. The 30 percent discount is only available to customers eating at eligible restaurants during a two-week promotional window. The promotional dates have not been set.

During the two-week promotional period, eligible restaurants can receive compensation of up to 50 percent of gross sales for dine-in meals, excluding alcohol, for each day. The total amount of funding available to each restaurant cannot exceed $90,000.

Through separate legislative action, the council also increased funding to the following CARES Act programs:

  • $5 million to the existing residential rental assistance program;
  • $4 million to the existing Commercial Rent and Mortgage Assistance Program;
  • $1 million to the existing childcare program; and
  • $1 million to the existing veteran assistance program.

The $18.5 million for these programs comes from the contingency reserve fund the council established when it received nearly $158 million from the CARES Act.