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the New York Times reported that millions of dollars in funding for minority-owned restaurants were recently halted due to a lawsuit filed by the owners of The Lost Cajun in Keller.
Its owners sought and obtained a preliminary injunction that barred the US Small Business Administration from giving preference to minority-owned businesses and women for a share of the $ 28.6 billion in available pandemic relief grants. through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
The plaintiffs are listed as Jason Smith and Janice Smith, who own and operate Blessed Cajuns LLC., The parent company of The Lost Cajun. In the lawsuit, they claim they lost nearly $ 350,000 in gross income during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Smiths filed a lawsuit in early May, complaining that during the first 21 days of the program, May 3-24, the SBA intended to prioritize grants to restaurants owned and controlled by women, veterans. and socially and economically disadvantaged people.
A national research study found that the total number of independent business owners in the United States fell 22% from February to April 2020, but black-owned businesses saw a 44% drop, with Latinos in 32% and Asians 26%.
The lawsuit was backed by America First Legal, led by Stephen Miller, an adviser to former President Donald Trump. The nation reported that “(…) former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows actually has a terrible new project: to work with Stephen Miller on an effort called America First Legal, which should really be called Whites First Legal “.
Judge Reed O’Connor, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2007, issued a temporary injunction on May 28 ending all status-based payments.
America First Legal subsequently issued a statement: âThis is a major victory for equal rights under the law and a repudiation of odious and unconstitutional racial preferences that have always found their place in the efforts COVID relief effort from the Biden administration.
Stacy Crowly, author of The New York Times exhibit, found that on June 1, just three days after the trial decision, The Lost Cajun received $ 187,753 from the SBA.
The Lost Cajun also received two Paycheck Protection Program loans of $ 67,900 in April 2020 and $ 95,073 in February 2021. In their request for these funds, The Lost Cajun self-identified as belonging to a woman. In total, they received $ 350,726 in loans and aid during the pandemic.
Even at the height of COVID-19 infections, when hospital capacities were on the brink of collapse, The Lost Cajun never closed and released photos of people dining inside their restaurant. On December 11, the deadliest week of the pandemic in North Texas, the restaurant hosted a second anniversary party, thanking “everyone who celebrated with us” and saying the party and the festivities would continue all weekend.
We have reached out to the Smiths for comment, but have not heard back.
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