Governor's decision to extend restaurant closures forces some to lean on small business loans

Posted at 10:26 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 22:52:27-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Ordering your food from the window at Omar’s Carriage House in Norfolk will continue for the next two weeks.

Governor Ralph Northam says social distancing is working and says it’s too early to allow people back into restaurants to dine.

“We kind of expected that businesses would have to stay closed. So, as of now, we are taking things day by day,” says Yasmine Boukhriss.

Boukhriss started working at her family-owned Moroccan restaurant in Norfolk a couple weeks after her father let most of his staff go.

“All of our hourly staff - we had to get rid of all of our serves and managers,” she adds.

Leaders in the industry say this is happening across the state.

"We have more than 15,000 restaurants, and our estimates are that more than half of them are closed,” said Eric Terry. He’s the president of the Virginia Restaurant and Lodging and Travel Association.

The community is supporting Omar’s, but the owner says they’ve had to look into other resources to keep things afloat.

“My dad did apply for a small business loan. As of now, he is waiting to get approved, but he did apply,” said Boukhriss.

Terry says the loans from the small business association aren’t as simple.

"The small business loans that have been created are sometimes not workable for the restaurant industry in particular."

He says if owners don’t use 75% of the money to cover payroll by the June 30 deadline, they’ll have to pay the money back.

"It's going to be critical to get them through this stage so that they can reopen so that jobs are available,” he adds.

He says this is why it’s also important to have other resources like grants available to assist businesses.

The folks at Omar’s say they can’t wait for things to go back to normal.

“We are just hoping that by he end of this, we can come out strong and be able to bring back all of the workers,” said Boukhriss.

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