clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The DFW Restaurant Whose Lawsuit Halted Pandemic Relief for Thousands of Businesses Has Already Received Nearly $200K in Aid

Small Business Administration records indicate that the funds were disbursed just days after a suit accusing the agency of discrimination against white people was filed

The Lost Cajun in Keller
The Lost Cajun/Facebook

The Dallas-Fort Worth restaurant owners who filed a lawsuit to prevent the Small Business Administration from prioritizing the distribution of Restaurant Revitalization Fund monies to women, racial minorities, and veterans, received nearly $200,000 from the Fund earlier this month.

According to the New York Times, the Small Business Administration disbursed $187,753 to the Lost Cajun’s owners, Janice Smith and Jason Smith, on June 1, one week after the lawsuit was filed on May 23. According to the petition filed with the United States District Court, that’s the exact amount that the Smiths were told by the Small Business Administration that they should expect to receive once their application for relief was approved.

In the suit, the Smiths allege that the Small Business Administration’s plan to prioritize applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund from businesses owned by “socially disadvantaged groups” was unconstitutional because it was discriminatory against white people. The lawsuit was filed by America First Legal, an advocacy organization founded by former Trump administration officials Stephen Miller and Mark Meadows.

It’s an interesting point to note, considering that attorneys for the Smiths suggested in court filings that the Restaurant Revitalization Fund could potentially run out of cash before their clients were able to obtain assistance. “Of the overall submitted applications, 57 percent came from women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged business owners,” the petition reads. “This raises the possibility that the entire $28.6 billion that Congress allocated to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will be depleted before the plaintiffs can even be considered for relief under the program.”

The Smiths’s co-plaintiff in the suit, Pennsylvania sports bar owner Eric Nyman, also received aid from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, to the tune of $640,425.

A federal judge in Texas issued an injunction in the matter last week, prohibiting the Small Business Administration from prioritizing aid to socially disadvantaged groups, which means that nearly 3,000 business owners across the country are stuck in limbo waiting for their applications to be processed. According to the Times, approvals for those 2,965 applications were “rescinded” following the judge’s order.

For those applicants, the timeline is unclear. The Small Business Administration has said that it will not process those applications until it has processed “all previously filed non-priority applications, and only then if the RRF is not first exhausted,” per the Times.

Among those is the application from Ten Bells Tavern owner Meri Dahlke, who’s still waiting on funds from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. “Thanks guys,” Dahlke wrote in a tweet. “Really appreciate you holding up the money I need to keep my business afloat.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Dallas newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world