NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The federal government launched another round of the paycheck protection program, or PPP this week.
Throughout the pandemic, Chef Frank Brigtsen has kept safety top of mind for his staff at his flagship restaurant which meant a good dose of creativity.
“In the last 10 months, I wrote cookbooks to sell online, spice blends, T-shirts, hats to sell online, a takeout business,” said Brigtsen.
Reopening after the summer shutdown though, Brigtsen says they ran through the paycheck protection loan money, with the only option of re-opening the dining room. But additional COVID restrictions made that even more challenging.
“This is a Tuesday night, we have seven people on the reservations tonight, seven, and six, to-go orders takeout order. That doesn’t cover much… But this new round of PPP is gonna be hopefully what gets us through the next three months. It kind of bridges us through to the spring, which we are hoping will be a better time for vaccinations coming out,” said Brigtsen.
Brigsten already plans to apply in the new round, but this time the loans and qualifications look different.
“There are a few things that are more flexible. This time you only have to use 60% of the loan on payroll and the 40% can be used on other things like rent and utilities also now,” said GNO Inc’s Michael Hecht.
Hecht says during the summer, nearly 29 thousand PPP loans distributed throughout the greater New Orleans area helped put more than 280 thousand people back to work. He says restaurants will particularly benefit this round.
“For most businesses, it’s two and a half times one month payroll is the amount, but for restaurants is three and a half times one month payroll so restaurants get a bonus in terms of the size of the loan that they can take and the amount that can be forgiven…. so it really is a cash flow grant to businesses so they can retain employees and stay open until we’re all vaccinated and kind of get back to the new normal in the middle of the summer,” said Hecht.
“Although we wish it came earlier it couldn’t come at a better time. Because we have seen a dip in business with. With the rise in infections,” said Brigtsen.
For New Orleans’ struggling, treasured restaurants, Brigtsen says the PPP money is not the answer, but it will help.
“We define neighborhoods. We anchor neighborhoods, and we provide 11 million jobs and that’s independent restaurants,” said Brigtsen.
Brigtsen says from a business standpoint, applying for the loans this round is also much easier.
For businesses applying for a second time, the loans are only available for businesses with 300 or fewer employees and up to 2 million dollars.
Businesses applying for the first time can qualify for 10 million dollars if they have 500 employees or fewer.
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