Big restaurant chains take $30M in coronavirus loans meant for small businesses

Big restaurant chains take $30M in coronavirus loans meant for small businesses

Large restaurant chains have gobbled up $30 million in federal loans meant to shore up small businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

The companies behind Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Ruth’s Chris Steak House each got sizable loans under the feds’ Paycheck Protection Program, the $349 billion small-business aid package that ran out of money Thursday.

Florida-based steakhouse operator Ruth’s Hospitality Group inked deals April 7 for $20 million in loans administered by the US Small Business Administration under the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill passed last month, records show.

And Chicago-based Potbelly Corporation got a $10 million loan from the program on April 10, the company said in a regulatory filing. Both firms said they received the money through JPMorgan Chase Bank.

The so-called PPP loans were aimed at helping companies with up to 500 employees cover payroll and overhead costs. But lawmakers expanded eligibility for restaurants so that companies could apply as long as they had no more than 500 workers at any single location.

That apparently paved the way for Ruth’s and Potbelly — which employ about 5,700 and 6,000 people, respectively — to dip into the limited pot of money.

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