A complete of 186,200 eating places, bars and different eligible companies utilized for help from a new $28.6 billion federal aid program within the first two days it was accepting functions, President Biden mentioned Wednesday, indicating enormous demand from a struggling business for restricted reduction funds.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created by Congress as a part of the $1.9 trillion reduction invoice handed in March. Enterprise house owners who have been hit onerous by the coronavirus pandemic can apply for grants of as much as $10 million.

The return of the eating business shall be a significant take a look at of Mr. Biden’s objective of getting again to regular, each for two.3 million folks whose restaurant jobs disappeared throughout the pandemic and for vaccinated Individuals desirous to exit and socialize once more.

Selling the brand new fund, Mr. Biden mentioned on Wednesday that eating places have been “woven into the material of our communities” and described the business as top-of-the-line paths for many individuals to attain the American dream.

“One in three Individuals, a restaurant supplied their first job,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “Greater than half of all Individuals have labored in a restaurant sooner or later of their lives.”

For the primary 21 days, the Small Business Administration will solely approve claims from companies which can be majority-owned by ladies, veterans or people who qualify as each socially and economically deprived.

The White Home press secretary, Jen Psaki, mentioned Wednesday that 97,600 of the functions obtained in this system’s first two days had come from companies owned by individuals who fell into these classes.

“We stay up for implementing that program,” Ms. Psaki mentioned, emphasizing the excessive demand for the reduction funds. However it’s not clear that prime demand is essentially a superb factor for a program that has restricted funding and must flip many needy companies away.

“We all know that the $28.6 billion will not be sufficient to satisfy the demand,” Isabella Casillas Guzman, the small enterprise administrator, mentioned final week. “Nevertheless, we have to reveal that demand, and we have to encourage everybody to use and entry this fund as a lot as doable and reveal what remaining want is on the market.”

Ms. Psaki mentioned the administration can be open to searching for extra funding from Congress sooner or later. Mr. Biden mentioned the excessive demand ought to show to skeptics that this system was badly wanted.

Earlier than his personal remarks on the White Home, Mr. Biden bought tacos and enchiladas from Taqueria Las Gemelas, a Mexican restaurant in Washington that Ms. Psaki mentioned was a beneficiary of the reduction fund’s pilot program. The restaurant went from 55 workers earlier than the pandemic to only seven, Mr. Biden mentioned.

This system has but to distribute any funds exterior of the restricted pilot.