Starting at noon on Monday, May 3, restaurants and other food businesses battered by the Covid-19 pandemic can begin applying for grants that will paid through the federal government's $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

The fund is part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 approved by Congress in March. Money from the grants can be spent on payroll, mortgage or rent payments, utilities, maintenance, supplies and other expenses. In addition to restaurants, caterers, bars and taprooms, food trucks and other types of food and drink businesses may apply. In disbursing the funds, the U.S. Small Business Administration will prioritize small businesses owned by women, veterans and "economically disadvantaged individuals."

Restaurant sales dropped by an estimated $205.3 billion between 2019 and 2020, and 2020 sales were $240 billion short of what industry groups had projected before the pandemic. While sales are expected to rebound this year, they are estimated to remain well below the industry's 2019 figure.

Reps. Vern Buchanan and Greg Steube, the two Republicans who together represent Sarasota and Manatee counties, both voted against American Rescue Plan Act, as did Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.