CRA: Federal Funding Details, Just 2 Counties Approved for 5 Star

Clear your calendar for a PPP 2.0 webinar, CHOW down, and get free legal help.

Close up image of a man's hands holding a stack of $100 bills.
Need to make cents of the new PPP loans? / Julia Sudnitskaya ©

Here are a few more details about the second round of PPP, plus info on a webinar that will discuss them in detail, so clear your calendar at 11:30 a.m. today. Just two counties have been approved for the state’s 5 Star Certification to date. Plus, homegrown support group CHOW is searching for new council members, and as a reminder, any Colorado restaurant in need of COVID-related legal advice can get four hours free by contacting the Colorado Restaurant Association (restaurants don’t need to be CRA members).

The following information comes from the CRA’s December 22 newsletter. Sign up to receive the full version here. And take a gander at its Coronavirus Resource Center and on our Covid-19 Reopening Resources for general info.

Congress Passes Federal COVID-19 Relief 

Congress passed a $900 billion relief bill to provide short-term economic relief to the country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes several items that will benefit restaurants, most importantly a second round of access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with unique provisions aimed at assisting the restaurant industry, which continues to endure unparalleled job and revenue losses.

The plan targets restaurant relief with provisions including:

  • Enhanced PPP Loan Size: The PPP provides a business with a forgivable loan based on 2.5 times its monthly payroll costs. Restaurants, however, can seek forgivable loans based on 3.5 times monthly payroll costs.
  • Enhanced Access to PPP: Companies that employ a total of 300 or more employees at all locations (combined) are deemed ineligible for PPP. This bipartisan plan reflects the reality that many mid-sized and larger restaurant groups are on the verge of bankruptcy and allows restaurants to qualify for PPP as long as they do not employ more than 300 employees at each physical location. 
  • Other provisions in the bill that will benefit restaurants include the deductibility of business expenses paid with PPP loans, enhancement of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), extension of the augmented Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), and increased tax deduction for business meals to 100%.

Learn more about the aid passed for restaurants here.

We know this fresh round of PPP is a necessary shot in the arm for restaurants, not the silver bullet to save the industry. We will need to see more substantial relief from Washington as the Biden Administration takes power, and we will continue to push for more federal relief for restaurants in 2021. 

Register for the National Restaurant Association’s Federal Relief Webinar

December 23 at 11:30 a.m., the National Restaurant Association is hosting a webinar explaining the restaurant-specific benefits included in the federal COVID-19 relief package.

National Restaurant Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Sean Kennedy, and Director of Healthcare and Tax Policy, Aaron Frazier, will outline what is in this latest bill, how it helps restaurants, and what steps you need to take to utilize benefits and programs. Additionally, they will provide an overview of what lies ahead when Congress returns to session in January.

Register for the webinar here.

Counties With Approved 5 Star State Certification Programs

Counties interested in implementing the 5 Star State Certification Program must submit a variance application for State approval. Once approved, the county can then launch its application for businesses. As of December 22, only two counties have been approved. Interested businesses can apply for the program through their local county application system. Approved restaurants can then utilize the capacity guidelines of the next, less restrictive dial level. 

We will continue to provide an updated list of counties with approved 5 Star State Certification Programs and how to find details on the specifics of the program and application process in each county:

You can read more about the 5 Star State Certification Program here

CHOW Nominations Open for New Council Members

CHOW (Culinary Hospitality Outreach and Wellness), an allied partner of the Colorado Restaurant Association, is looking for new council members. CHOW is an organization of culinary and hospitality staff working to nourish their lives inside and outside of the kitchen. 

CHOW is dedicated to providing resources for mental health in the hospitality community. It’s goals include:

  • Outreach: Share our resources with the restaurant and hospitality industry
  • Resources: Create partnerships with clinicians, fitness venues, and other professional organizations that will allow us to offer whole body wellness
  • Education: Provide teaching tools that will help the hospitality industry understand and address mental health

They are looking for a well-rounded council.  Folks who have restaurant experience, lawyers, marketers, mental health professionals, restaurant owners, nonprofit professionals, finance experts, etc. They would like the board to reflect our industry and welcome all race, color, education, and gender. 

If you are interested in serving on CHOW’s council click here.

Free COVID-19 Legal Assistance

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants are forgoing legal help for fear of accruing expenses they won’t be able to pay. In an effort to give back to the restaurant community in its darkest hour and get operators the assistance they need, Denver-based law firm Messner Reeves is offering each Colorado restaurant up to four hours of pro bono legal services to address issues arising from the pandemic. This offer is available to all Colorado-based and Colorado-located restaurants, and the only requirement is that your legal issue be COVID-19-related. Areas of assistance include: 

  • Recent regulatory changes and developments impacting the restaurant industry;
  • Landlord/Tenant negotiations and lease review;
  • CARES Act/SBA Funding (EIDL loan applications, PPP forgiveness, and other issues surrounding the programs);
  • Vendor negotiations;
  • Policies & Procedures including employee and customer health, food safety, and other compliance requirements;
  • and more. 

To access this assistance, send an email succinctly stating what your issue is to We will refer you to the Messner Reeves team, who will conduct a short intake interview to determine your primary needs and assign you to the correct practice. Please understand that Messner Reeves may be inundated by requests, and they will work through them as quickly as they can without sacrificing work quality.

Talk to DiningOut! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to


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