Downtown Charleston restaurateurs among 186,200 applicants for government relief funds | Next round
Since August, the Post and Courier Food section has registered weekly with four downtown Charleston restaurants facing the coronavirus pandemic and recovering from restrictions designed to contain it. The following three restaurants are still in the process of returning to normal. For previous versions of the series, as well as more information on featured restaurants and their chosen success strategies, click here.
In pursuit of Sage: Midday
There’s no standard payout from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, the $ 28.6 billion federal aid program designed to help food businesses weather losses from a pandemic. Each candidate had to calculate a requested amount based on the difference between 2019 and 2020 gross receipts, with adjustments to Paycheck Protection Program loans.
A restaurant could show it deserved the maximum grant of $ 10 million. Or he could file a claim for the minimum of $ 1,000.
In other words, the federal government had no way of predicting in advance whether the money would go to 2,860 restaurants or more than 28 million restaurants, but it seemed likely that the final figure would be somewhere. between the two. On May 5, President Joe Biden said he predicted 100,000 restaurants would receive aid.
With this number so high and the need so urgent, the Small Business Administration has not set out to monitor claims on merit or accuracy. Instead, he announced that the funds would be distributed on a first come, first served basis, with businesses owned by women, veterans or members of certain disadvantaged groups being placed first.
Restaurant owners knew they couldn’t hang out.
If they wanted the best hit at their piece of the pie, they had to be ready to drop off on May 3 at 12 p.m.
Loan meant having paperwork in order. Loan meant knowing exactly which numbers to put in which boxes.
Walter Edward of Chasing Sage, a majority of whom is owned by his wife, Cindy Edward, spent the days leading up to the program’s launch talking to their accountant and familiarizing themselves with the system. He was ready.
So ready, in fact, that he decided not to wait until 12 hours to sit down in front of his computer. He called the site at a quarter past twelve, making sure there was no obstacle to derailing demand that could determine the future of their restaurant.
“I felt like the gunslinger of the Old West, showing up with an itchy trigger finger,” Edward said.
Much to Edward’s surprise, the stampede was underway.
“They opened it early,” he said. “I arrived late for a shootout. But I always have.
In less than two days, the owners of 186,199 other businesses had also filed their claims. According to the White House, 97,600 of them are in the priority group.
“My biggest worry is how many people have applied before me and how fast the money will go,” said Edward. “There are a lot of restaurants there.”
Before the pandemic, there were 654,000 eating places across the country, according to the White House.
Cindy Edward said her gratitude for the possibility of relief had been tempered by guilt over how many of these restaurants would be closed if the fund was not replenished.
Harold’s Hut: Defeat
Will the fund be replenished? U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn, DS.C., told the Independent Restaurant Coalition last week that the outcome depended on the “3-E litmus test,” reports Harold’s Cabin owner John Schumacher, who was at the ‘Zoom call.
“It will depend on the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of the distribution of funds,” said Schumacher, who took a step of pride in South Carolina by being associated with a political leader considered a staunch defender of restaurants; Schumacher said Clyburn’s “integrity, delivery and storytelling” captivated other members of the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
Schumacher logged into the Restaurant Revitalization Fund site at noon to complete his application, knowing it would take 20 minutes.
More than four hours later, Schumacher received the email message indicating that his claim had been filed.
“Some of the time was a longer than expected document upload time, and I’m sure there was an ‘operator’ error because I’m not the sharpest tool in the hangar when it comes to it’s about such things, “he said.
As Harold’s Cabin is not in the priority group, his application will not be considered for three weeks, during which time companies that do not meet the criteria will be held up behind a figurative velvet rope.
Still, Schumacher was relieved to have completed the process. It felt like such a big step towards normality that Schumacher was able to reconnect to the typical rhythms of the season.
Specifically, he was thinking baseball: Schumacher was the food and beverage manager for the RiverDogs before he opened Harold’s Cabin. Having missed the fans and the green grass last summer, he reached out to his successor to ask if the team needed help selling beer.
On opening day, Schumacher was parked at the Wicked Weed booth.
The long, fleeting sense of routine was one he wouldn’t soon forget.
Butcher & Bee: smooth driving
There are probably a million ways to say “good job”, from a bouquet of flowers to a pat on the back. For Michael Shemtov, owner of Butcher & Bee and the driving force behind the Independent Restaurant Coalition, confirmation that the Restaurant Revitalization Fund has started smoothly came in a text:
“Buy stocks regardless of the entrepreneur.”
Shemtov got the message.
Restaurant owners are generally hesitant to engage with government, as the bureaucracy involved in obtaining a liquor license or hanging a sign is daunting for entrepreneurs who thrive on the fly and enjoy idiosyncrasy. The experience of many business owners with the paycheck protection program has only reinforced their belief that federal agencies are cumbersome and overly complex.
Naturally, they assumed that the grant application process would inherit these characteristics.
Instead, Shemtov said that “the information posted previously matched the information on the site; there were no surprises. I know there were issues, but everyone I spoke to, if they had a problem, they got over it.
Butcher & Bee filed their claim without any problem.
Certainly, said Shemtov, the week was not without stress. One of the new sous chefs who was at the heart of the restaurant’s new three-chef system left the day before he left. And with Butcher & Bee’s reservation books filling up for the coming weeks, the restaurant isn’t able to start closing on certain days each week, as many other Charleston area restaurants have recently chosen to. do it.
“It really creaks people,” Shemtov said of the long hours due to the staff shortage.
But with their grant application in the priority queue, the Butcher & Bee team last week eagerly awaited Mother’s Day and the more than 350 guests scheduled to join them.
“That’s more bookings than we’ve ever had for any service,” Shemtov said.
According to Shemtov’s estimates, his restaurant is not yet off the roller coaster. But it’s going high right now.