AUSTIN, Texas — Ruth's Hospitality Group is now repaying its loan KVUE has learned, three days after a previous report.
This comes as lawmakers are considering a second round of funding after the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program quickly ran out of money.
But before the program dried up, it handed out millions to corporations and left small businesses, many of them in Austin, without a dime.
Businesses, like Branch BBQ, on Wells Branch Parkway in North Austin. It has been serving the Austin area since 1994.
Owner Chris Carbe opens every day except Sundays. But, starting next week, that will have to change.
"From a financial standpoint, we do not have a choice because the PPP did not come through for us and for so many other small businesses ... to be able to make this, we're going to Mondays and Tuesdays," Carbe said.
Closing two days a week because Carbe couldn't get money from the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program.
He said it was a hard process from the beginning. It started with a call to Chase Bank on a Monday.
"Then Wednesday rolls around, Thursday rolls around and Friday afternoon we get an email from the banker with a link from them on how to apply for the PPP loan," he said.
Carbe didn't get his $35,000 loan, but Ruth's Hospitality Group did. The owner of Ruth Chris Steakhouse reportedly got $20 million from the PPP funding.
"No, I was not really happy because that's a high-end steak house which, you know, is not open yet we still are," Carbe said.
And we are now learning that corporations may have gotten a head start on the PPP funding process by an entire week. That's according to President and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association Emily Williams Knight.
"The corporations who, frankly, are better resourced than an individual restaurant owner with lawyers and accountants, and one of the biggest disadvantages is we're not a high-receivable business so our smaller restaurants don't have relationships with lenders like a major company would," Knight said.
So by the time small restaurants applied for the PPP funding, Knight said 82% of the money was already gone. That's according to a survey her group conducted during the loaning process.
Knight also said, in Texas, the restaurant industry only received $28.5 billion out of the total $350 billion PPP fund. That comes out to about 135,000 loans. Not nearly enough when you consider this industry lost 600,000 jobs.
Knight said her association is currently working with lawmakers for loan revisions that would make it easier for restaurant owners.
In the meantime, Carbe is forced to make hard decisions.
"Cutting employee hours because he didn't get the loan ... I don't think it's fair at all ... That affects my employees and my community. I can't tell you how many of my customers have come in and thanked me for being open. And, starting today, I've got to tell them they can't come Mondays and Tuesdays," said Carbe.
So, for the first time in 25 years, there will be new hours at Branch BBQ.
"It's heartbreaking to have to change," said Carbe.
Doing what he needs to do in order to survive.
KVUE received the following statement from Ruth's Hospitality Group on April 23, three days after first reaching out:
"In an effort to protect our team members and their loved ones, Ruth’s Hospitality Group applied for and received loans under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). We were eligible for this assistance, and our goal was to utilize funds to keep as many of our team members working for as long as possible, cover 100% of healthcare benefits, and position Ruth’s Chris to rebuild its workforce as quickly as possible. We intended to repay this loan in adherence with government guidelines. As we learned more about the funding limitations of the program and the unintended impact, we have decided to accelerate that repayment. We remain dedicated to protecting our hardworking team. It is our hope that these funds are loaned to another company to protect their employees, just as we intended."
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