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Thursday, 23 April 2020

‘Return The Money Now’: Petition Demands Major Steakhouse Chain Give Back $20 Million In COVID-19 Loans

As the public becomes aware that big businesses and restaurant chains have benefitted from the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), allegedly taking money away from small businesses that desperately need the funds, people have taken aim at the big-name establishments responsible.
As of this writing, over 220,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding that Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse return the $20 million it received from the program.
“Ruth’s Chris Steak House or its subsidiaries took 20 Million dollars of SBA loans intended for true small businesses,” the petition asserts. “Many small businesses are now being told there is no money left for them, and they cannot pay their employees, and may have to close forever. This is a travesty, and a disgusting display of corporate greed during a time of disaster. Tell Ruth’s Chris Steak House ‘Return the money now! You will be shamed forever if you do not.  People will not forget.’ Demand that Ruth’s Chris Steak House return the money that it, in effect, stole from actual small businesses across this great country.”
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is owned by Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc., which received $20 million for its two subsidiaries, according to Fox News. The $349 billion Small Business Administration’s PPP loan program was depleted in funds last week, and Congress has yet to replenish it.
Nancy Calamusa, the owner of a small medical treatment facility in New Jersey, said Ruth’s Chris getting millions of dollars in loans while truly small businesses suffer only highlights how poorly the program was managed.
“We’re seeing that these larger corporations, as you see someone like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, just got $20 million,” Calamusa told Fox News. “You know, and here we are trying to survive and provide medically necessary intervention to a population that is at risk and vulnerable. And yet, you know, kayak rental businesses are getting $10 million. The process should have been a better hierarchy on who received these funds first.”
Ruth’s Hospitality Group has not yet commented on the situation. The petition comes within days after the restaurant chain Shake Shack announced it would be returning the $10 million it received in SBA loans after a severe public outcry.
“Shake Shack was fortunate last Friday to be able to access the additional capital we needed to ensure our long term stability through an equity transaction in the public markets,” Shake Shack’s CEO Randy Garutti and founder Danny Meyer wrote in a statement. “We’re thankful for that, and we’ve decided to immediately return the entire $10 million PPP loan we received last week to the [Small Business Association] so that those restaurants who need it most can get it now.”
Though the SBA loan program was limited to companies with fewer than 500 employees, exceptions were granted to restaurants and hotel chains that have fewer than 500 employees per location.
“Few, if any restaurants in America employ more than 500 people per location. That meant that Shake Shack – with roughly 45 employees per restaurant – could and should apply to protect as many of our employees’ jobs as possible,” Garutti and Meyer wrote. “The immediate drop in business due to the virus had caused the company to face operating losses of over $1.5 million each week, simply by keeping our doors open with the goal of paying our people and feeding our communities.”
“There was no fine print, anywhere, that suggested: ‘Apply now, or we will run out of money by the time you finally get in line,’” they added.

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