An aerial view of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico after one of the main cables holding the receiver broke on December 1, 2020. (Ricardo ArduengoAFP via Getty Images)

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Much like the Arecibo Observatory (picture above), the Keep L.A. Dining website suffered a catastrophic failure this week. While the research facility in Puerto Rico had been operating for nearly 60 years before a 900-ton equipment platform collapsed, the restaurant relief website crashed barely an hour after launching.

As of Friday at 5 p.m., the COVID-19 relief site was still down and a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Development Authority had no estimate of when it would be back up and running.

The Keep L.A. Dining program, announced earlier this week, gives $30,000 to brick-and-mortar restaurants that meet certain criteria. But the funds are limited.

LACDA, which is overseeing the program, said the number of applications would be capped at 2,500 and the agency would start accepting them at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3.

So at midnight, restaurant owners — 6,000 of them, according to LACDA — dutifully tried to log in and fill out their applications. They were met with buffering issues, sessions that timed out and website crashes.

Matt Glassman, who owns ETA and The Greyhound Bar & Grill, described the process as “absolutely soul-crushing.”

According to LACDA, more than 300 applicants were able to register but only two were able to submit full applications.

A LACDA spokesperson says, “The portal was overwhelmed due to the surge of thousands of applicants.”

The agency says it is “pivoting to an alternate portal and will adjust the timing of the [site’s] reopening,” suggesting the new portal won’t launch at midnight. But who knows?

When the new Keep L.A. Dining portal launches, it will continue taking applications until the 2,500 cap is reached. No word on when that will happen but given how much restaurants are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a safe bet that site will also be flooded with applicants.

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