Small business loan helps save jobs at Whittier restaurant

WHITTIER, Calif .– Growing up in the restaurant business, Annette Wren learned the main ingredient to success: hard work. “Busy nights, weekends. It was always full time. It still is, every day,” Wren said. “We are open seven days a week.”

She is co-owner of Italian restaurant Lascari, a long-time staple of the Whittier restaurant scene. Before the pandemic hit, Wren knew when to expect customers to dine there and order take out or food services. Business is very different these days.

What would you like to know

  • The $ 669 billion paycheck protection program has granted more than 5.1 million loans since its launch in April
  • The deadline to apply for a PPP loan is Saturday August 8
  • Average loan size is $ 101,782 and $ 130 billion remains in the program
  • For the loan to be repayable, at least 60% must be spent on salary expenses

“It’s a struggle every day not to know what the day is going to bring. On really hot days people tend to eat out more, so we try to plan that, but without dinner you just don’t know. just not where people are going to go, ”she said.

Even though Wren has worked in the restaurant business his entire life, the pandemic is forcing him to step into new territory. His parents started 50 years ago with a small delicatessen and then opened two restaurants. After their retirement, Wren and three of his brothers took over the company, managing more than 100 employees. But when the pandemic struck and business slowed, they had to make some tough decisions.

“It was pretty scary,” she said. “We were going through lists that, of course, were going to have to fire a lot of people.”

But Wren only had to lay off about 10% of its employees thanks to a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program. The $ 669 billion business loan program has granted more than five million loans to the tune of $ 523 billion since its launch in April. Small business owners can still apply for a P3 loan as the deadline has been extended from June 30 to August 8.

Without the PPP loan, Wren could not have continued to pay Lascari staff.

“They would have survived, but there would have been massive layoffs and they would have had to fire a fairly significant portion of their team,” said CPA Matt Tallman. He is responsible for the accounts of Lascari’s and three dozen other restaurants in Southern California.

Lascari’s was one of nearly 1,600 small businesses that received PPP loans in Whittier, but Tallman says the high number of loans granted is not unusual.

“It’s really about who needs the money and small businesses that don’t have the capacity to raise capital otherwise, you know,” Tallman said. “It just kept people at work.”

For the loan to be forgiven, at least 60% of it must be used to cover payroll, and the remainder can be used for rent, utilities, and other business-related expenses. Tallman says the loan, along with the restaurant’s well-established take-out and delivery service, have helped the business survive in recent months.

“I just wake up grateful every day because you never know what’s going to happen, and to be able to do business is good,” Wren said.

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