Wolf Highlights $7 Million In Pandemic Recovery Funds For Bucks Restaurants

Governor Tom Wolf (right) speaks with Dana Pezza (left) while County Commissioner Bob Harvie looks on (middle). Photo by Rick Rickman.

Governor Tom Wolf is reminding Bucks County about $7 million in relief funds for local restaurants.

Wolf highlighted the funding at the Bristol Wharf surrounded by local officials Friday afternoon. It came just before the governor toured damages from Monday’s 100 year flood.

Itri Wood Fired owner Dana Pezza. Photo by Rick Rickman.

Among several speakers was Itri Wood Fired owner Dana Pezza. She is married to Bristol Borough Councilman Greg Pezza.

“When the country initially shutdown, my husband and I immediately knew we had to set new goals for our business. And we knew that this was going to be a storm we were going to have to weather together.”

Dana said the most important aspect for them was to not layoff any employees. She added the $40,000 grant her business received saved the restaurant.

“We know the nature of our business in the restaurant industry is changed forever,” said Pezza. “And these funds have helped us to start making steps to adapt.”

Nearly 200 restaurants throughout Bucks County received grants to support their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the funds helped nearly 1,400 full time employees and more than 2,000 part-time workers keep their jobs.

Each restaurant received COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program, or CHIRP, grant between $5,000 to $40,000. Previously the governor’s office said the maximum grant size would be $50,000.

Governor Tom Wolf visits the Bristol Wharf with Steve D’Ettorre, Deputy Secretary of Technology & Innovation for the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. Photo by Rick Rickman.

The $7 million for Bucks came as part of $145 million allocated for PA restaurants through Act 1, signed into law by Wolf in early March. The total $912 million package passed through the state Senate on a bipartisan, unanimous vote.

Wolf explained the $145 million came from a surplus in the Workers Compensation Trust Fund. The program supports employees injured on the job whose employers may not have workers compensation insurance. But the fund had enough to cover the program’s needs, and then some.

“There was 145 million dollars over and above that we could take and use. No increase in taxes, no increase in anybody’s burden. It was just there,” said Wolf. “And what better use but to take it to businesses all across the commonwealth, especially in the hospitality industry who were hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

State Rep. John Galloway and Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie joined the governor as well. Galloway said they gathered to see the results Act 1 had locally.

“Nothing happens in a bipartisan way in six weeks in Harrisburg, but this did,” said Galloway.