Bizarro World

By David Helbraun
on May 11, 2020 in

It is the Middle Ground between
Science and Superstition
there is…..
THE TWILIGHT ZONE!!!

We thought we were in dire straits.  We feared that the lifeline that we needed to survive until things got back to full capacity was not going to happen.  We believed that we were being put on a raft and sent out to die but we were wrong.  We forgot that our heroes in D.C. were on the job and that they would save us.  And so, we enter… the twilight zone.

In this bizarro world, up is down and versa vice. Here, everything is sanitary and the virus is just a gazillion little hoaxes.  If you don’t believe in them, they disappear. We can open up our restaurants and people will come back and pack the place.  Like they did in Cuckoo Colorado!!  In this upside down utopia, the government programs are well-run and small businesses are thriving and everyone is just so darn thankful. 

As Mnooch said today “The PPP is doing great!”  And according to our President, “America is open for business!” and according to southern and midwestern republicans “We can’t stay home no more and we have guns and.. we have guns!”

What on earth is happening?  How is the government actually going to help the restaurant industry?  What we need is simple.  We need the rent paid on our restaurants until we can open up all the way.  You give us that, we have a fighting chance.  Without that, it’s over.  And then, if we can’t make it, we need to be able to turn in the keys and close our business without losing our shirt.  That’s  it.  

Mnooch did say today that he was “sympathetic” to restaurants because many were not yet open and that he and Congress could discuss a “technical fix”.  Ok. What the hell kind of fix are you talking about and how about fixing it tomorrow? How about not being so cloak and dagger about everything and let us know NOW so we can put an end to the hiring charade and stop giving ourselves stomach cancer.

I was on Zoom calls all day today with ROAR, The NY Hospitality Coalition and Senator Chuck Schumer himself.  I was in the twilight zone of Zoom calls where each minute exhausts you as much as 15 telephone minutes,  So. I’m tired now and will give you what I learned in a series of bullet points to be expounded on during the week.

City Beat

  – Bill 1932 – The “No Personal Liability Bill” – This is expected to pass through the City Council on May 13th and then head to the Mayor for his signature.  It may have to wait the 30 days and then it’s a law.  Word is that they added a provision which is in effect an expiration date of September 30th after which you won’t be able to hand back the keys.  But you will be up until then.  Lot’s of problems with this but we should be able to use it to or advantage with our landlord negotiations.

 – The Mayor is tossing around Labor Day as the earliest, restaurants will be opening.  

The Feds

Senator Schumer said the following this evening on a conference call with hospitality people:

 – The Dems are pushing for a national testing regime.  They understand that without  a massive degree of testing and tracing, businesses will have a long, tough road to opening. 

–  He thinks the PPP rollout was a huge mess.  He and Ms. Pelosi are working on the next small business bill that would include:

– Extending the forgiveness deadline to December 31.
– Extending the time to use the funds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks.
– Changing the loan term from 2 years to 5 years.
– Eliminating the 25% cap on non-payroll expenses.
– Holding harmless employers if employees don’t want to return to work.
– Expanding the things you can use the loan for outside of rent and utilities.
– Giving more money to existing borrowers who have already started using the money so they are not penalized.

He then cautioned that it’s not a done deal but it certainly seems that they have an understanding of the issues so that’s a good sign.  Perhaps we are being heard. I felt like we were for the first time. 

Lastly, the Senator said “If we need more money, it will be there”.   Ok, let me be the first to say, WE NEED MORE MONEY.

Good night,
David

Written By David Helbraun
David Helbraun is the Founding Partner and Chairman of the firm. He is a lifelong entrepreneur who has been running successful businesses in New York City for years.

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