Struggling restaurants and bars are another step closer to getting some much-needed financial assistance.

Eligible bar and restaurant owners could pre-register on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website Friday for Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) funding. The application portal officially opens on Monday, May 3, at noon ET.

Within the first hour of opening, 41,000 establishments pre-registered, a representative with the SBA and Independent Restaurant Coalition said.

Earlier this month, the SBA announced full details about the first-come, first-serve program, along with guidelines for eligible businesses that can benefit from the funds.

PHOTO: A sign in the window at Bar Max reads, We are currently seating customers with proof of vaccination, on April 16, 2021, in Denver.
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
A sign in the window at Bar Max reads, We are currently seating customers with proof of vaccination, on April 16, 2021, in Denver.

"Help is here," SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. "We’re prioritizing funding to the hardest-hit small businesses -- irreplaceable gathering places in our neighborhoods and communities that need a lifeline now to get back on their feet."

The program was designed to help businesses "meet payroll, purchase supplies and get what they need in place to transition to today’s COVID-restricted marketplace," she explained.

President Biden's American Rescue Plan, which established the $28.6 billion fund, was created to help bring jobs back and revive the hard-hit industry.

Erika Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, hailed the SBA for quickly coming up with guidelines for the relief program.

"It is clear the SBA and the Biden Administration care deeply about ensuring businesses struggling the most can quickly and effectively use this relief program, and we look forward to continued conversations and collaboration to ensure this fund works as intended for the independent restaurant and bar community," she said.

What Restaurant and Bar Owners Need to Know

Before the streamlined RRF application portal officially launches, the SBA will establish a seven-day pilot period to work on outreach and training and address any technical issues before the public launch.

"Participants in this pilot will be randomly selected from existing PPP borrowers in priority groups for RRF and will not receive funds until the application portal is open to the public," the SBA said.

In the first 21 days of the program launching, the SBA will prioritize applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. After that time, all eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications.

Click here for full details on application requirements, eligibility, and program guide.

PHOTO: Staffers work the opening of a restaurant on the Eataly Flatiron Rooftop on April 15, 2021, in New York.
Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Staffers work the opening of a restaurant on the Eataly Flatiron Rooftop on April 15, 2021, in New York.

Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, trucks and carts, caterers, bars, lounges and taverns, snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars, bakeries, brewpubs, tasting and taprooms, breweries and/or microbreweries, wineries and distilleries, inns and licensed alcohol production facilities that serve samples or product for purchase.

The SBA also worked with leading advocacy groups for underserved business communities as well as national and state trade associations and other small business stakeholders like craft breweries to understand any concerns about the program.

The RRF will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.

Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023, according to the SBA.

This story was originally published on April 19, 2021.