Robert Miller, a Pittsburgh area restaurateur, has watched with sadness as some of his favorite local eateries closed for good in recent weeks.
Union Standard, Pizza Taglio, Spoon — just a handful of the businesses lost in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
“They’re all places people would know by name,” Miller said.
Miller, 45, expects his restaurants would have been among the wreckage if it weren’t for aid received as part of federal coronavirus relief.
His three establishments — Sidelines Bar and Grill, Sidelines Beer House and The Fire Side Public House — collectively got about $212,000 in funding through the Paycheck Protection Program and $775,000 from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
But the PPP money has been gone for weeks, sales are down at least 50% from last year and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf curbed bar and restaurant activity again this week due to rising Covid-19 cases.
Miller fears his restaurants can only make it another six to eight months absent more federal aid or a resumption of normal business.
“It’s been difficult,” he said. “You could talk to 1 million people who have the same story as me.”
Funding issued through the Small Business Administration has been a financial lifeline for millions of small businesses during a recession that hit faster than any other in American history.
The Paycheck Protection Program, created by the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion relief measure enacted in March, offered low-interest loans of up to $10 million to small businesses.
Entrepreneurs who use the funding a certain way, like allocating the bulk toward employee wages, don’t have to repay the loan — a huge draw for businesses forced to shut due to government fiat and through no fault of their own.