Prince George’s County restaurant owners affected by the coronavirus pandemic interested in applying for a portion of $6 million can begin Friday.

Latasha Pennant, who owns Island Fin Poké Co. of Bowie, plans to apply for some of the funding to help boost capital for her 1,500 square-foot restaurant that serves Hawaiian-style cuisine.

“I would use the money for rent and give it to my landlord,” Pennant said. “That would help free up capital for other things.”

For instance, she said, she is considering using some of the money to deliver food versus using carrier services such as Uber. The Island Fin restaurant in Bowie is the only stand-alone establishment in Maryland serving healthy cuisine in a bowl.

Formerly called the “Restaurant Resiliency Fund,” owners can receive up to $25,000 in grants to purchase personal protection equipment, winterization for outdoor seating, rent, payroll and utilities.

In order to qualify for funding, merchants must meet certain qualifications.

To be eligible, the firms must:

– Be in good standing with the state of Maryland and not in bankruptcy or litigation.
– Have incurred financial losses caused directly or indirectly due to COVID-19.
– If closed, reopen within 30 days if funds are approved.

Food trucks, catering establishments and farm stands licensed in Prince George’s are available to apply for a portion of the $6 million that comes from the state’s $50 million business relief fund earmarked specifically for restaurants.

Also, businesses must have been in operation by March 15. Island Fin Poké opened in February.

The state allowed the restaurant initiative to be handled locally by each jurisdiction.

Business owners in Prince George’s can apply through the county’s Economic Development Corp. website at https://www.pgcedc.com/restaurantfund. Applications are to be filed by Dec. 18 and will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

David Iannucci, president of the county’s EDC, said this marks the county’s third COVID-19 related initiative to help the business community. He said the county has more than 2,000 small, medium and large food establishments.

“Restaurants are a challenging enterprise in a normal economy,” he said. “Prince George’s County values its restaurants, particularly its independent restaurants, locally-owned restaurants. The county executive feels an obligation to do everything we can to help these folks weather, no pun intended, the upcoming winter.”

Back in Bowie at Island Fin Poké (pronounced PO-KEY), customers walk up to the counter and can build their own bowl starting with white rice, brown rice, or spring mix lettuce.

Besides toppings, vegetables and marinating sauces, eight proteins are available, including spam, spicy tuna, salmon, octopus and shrimp.

Delma Davis of Bowie and Robin McCants of Clinton are fans of octopus. “This is our favorite local spot,” McCants said after the couple finished their lunch outside the restaurant. “It’s a great place with good food and nice people.”

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