By: Kimberly Houghton, Union Leader Correspondent
Restaurants throughout the state that received the first round of money from the Paycheck Protection Program are fearful as their funds are depleting and their restaurants are still unable to accommodate indoor dining.
These restaurants are running out of time, said Mike Somers, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association.
The money will be gone and there is still no opening date, Somers said during a conference call Thursday with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Small businesses that received PPP money in round one are about to run out of those funds, agreed Bill Greiner, co-owner of Great New Hampshire Restaurants.
“For us, we are literally days away,” Greiner said, noting some businesses will need to make very difficult decisions on whether to cut staff.
Shaheen said there are discussions underway and attempts at legislation to assist those businesses who received the first loan to possibly obtain a second one, however a bipartisan effort will be necessary to get something passed to provide some additional money that is beyond just the hospitality industry.
The Black Trumpet in Portsmouth is another restaurant that is reaching the end of its PPP loan funds and is worried about the uncertain future. Evan Mallet, chef and owner, says it is frustrating that there is no timeline for reopening indoor dining.
Mallet said it is difficult to make plans for staffing and even pay his rent with so many questions still looming.
Shaheen said she understands this is a frightening and difficult time for many business owners in New Hampshire. The tourism and hospitality industry has been hard hit, and in many cases the first to be shut down and among the last to open during the COVID-19 pandemic, she added.
“I do believe that we are able to operate at a safe manner at a reduced capacity inside,” said Sean Brown of The Common Man. While The Common Man inns will be reopening on Friday, he said what is really necessary is the opening of indoor dining — at least at half capacity.
Shaheen said the state recently received about $61 million in federal funds for additional COVID-19 testing, adding that will be helpful as the state continues to open up and push for indoor dining.
“We need a major infrastructure investment package,” she acknowledged, which should be geared to helping these businesses in the long run as well, not just with their immediate needs.
Click here to read the full article on unionleader.com.