Readers Sound Off!

By David Helbraun
on April 19, 2020 in

Dearly Elected,
We are gathered here today to give you a piece of our mother@!%$$# mind.

Dear HL Clients,

I love you all so much. You answered the clarion call and sent me eloquent, sarcastic, painful, funny and deliciously nasty answers to the question I posed:

“What do you want to say to our dearly elected about PPP loans or anything else? You can be as blunt and colorful as you like.”

It’s good to know from your emails that we are all pissed off and we are together in our condemnation of how we are being treated by our dearly elected.  So, take a swig or a toke or grab a bowl of  ice cream or pasta or popcorn and welcome to our Friday night HL group therapy session. 

So, how do you feel?

Loans aren’t going to do it. We need forgiveness that goes up the line. We need full rent forgiveness, and the landlords need full mortgage forgiveness, and so on up the chain. Reopening at 25%-50% capacity with a ton of new debt is going be an impossible situation. Also, what is 8 weeks? What’s going to be different in 8 weeks? All the employees that get pulled off unemployment so we can use the PPP money, are going to get laid off again, and get right back on. And that money isn’t even very useful for the actual business. We’re not closed, because we can’t pay employees. We’re closed, because people can’t leave their houses!

– the Up & Up

How can you run out of money for small businesses you asshole fuckers?
  Bailing out large companies and airlines does nothing for small business. We won’t be able to afford to go on a fucking plane.

 -Brandon Cooper

Look, I love Shake Shack, I idolize Danny M. and can only dream about being as successful as he is. This isn’t on him at all. Just like the rest of us, he’s trying to shore up his business and ensure a smooth bounce back. This is on how oversight was stripped from this program so things like this could happen. JFC, I recently put my entire life savings in opening a bakery staffed with a dozen people and asked for a few pennies, comparatively. Couldn’t you have at least helped small businesses who are legitimately small businesses FIRST and not global chains by NOT pulling the funding from the same effing pot? Of course money would run out in minutes if you do that! Fuck! Now I’m stuck in financial limbo, in some imaginary queue at SBA hoping that another round of funding comes down the pipeline. But who can say who’s in front of me? Chick-Fil-A? Damnit.

– Renato Poliafito

You have not supported us. we’ll be sure to do the same at the polls

Oliver Haslegrave, home studios

That it’s bullshit that companies like Shake Shack got 10 million in PPP and Ruth Chris gets 20 million while the rest of us got denied.

– MID|NIGHTS

We’re all grateful for the help that Congress has given us with the PPP. But if you don’t want 22 million workers laid off again in 8 weeks’ time, you’ve got to not only re-fund the PPP now but also extend the 8 week covered period to at least 16 weeks or more. Restaurants aren’t meant to be unemployment agencies — that’s not what we’re good at. Give us more funds and more time, and let us get back to doing what we do best — serving people.

– The Deco Food + Drink

Go fuck yourselves

 – Archie’s Fuckin’ Bar and Pizza

Thanks to the lobbying done by larger companies to have a provision in the CARES act, businesses like Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse have received MILLIONS from PPP loans. Meanwhile, the real small businesses who employ 10-100 people in total are left stranded, with no options, no bail outs, no help, and no sympathy. We pay less taxes than the larger “small” businesses, so who cares if we drop out and diminish? We are all dead men (and women) walking, and the odds were never in our favor.

– Concord Hill

Yesterday I read that every two minutes someone dies of COVID in New York State. It’s DAY 33 of the NYC PAUSE and with absolutely no relief in site I’ve been wondering how many small family businesses (cornerstones of our communities and economy) are dying with each passing minute. By the end of this we’re likely talking thousands of them unless we get relief yesterday.

-Judy’s

When huge companies like Ruth Chris’s Steak House gets $20 million in assistance and Shake Shack get $10 million I think it’s fair to say that none of our elected officials understand or have ever owned a small business. Shame on you all for patting yourselves on the back for trying to “help us.” Seems like they are telling themselves anything to abdicate them of any responsibility for letting the small guy sink.

– Someday Bar

How fucking dare you take care of all the big companies who use the PPP money as a future cushion in case next year they have hard times. Do you guys remember what Brooklyn looked like in 1977? I now know that politicians don’t give 2 not 1 shit about us small business men and women struggling to stay open. Sure I’m in the business of entertaining our community giving them a place to dance, eat and drink and to you guys it’s not essential. I beg to differ. Everyone needs a release and a place to make them forget their troubles. I keep our community with smiles on their face. I run my business as a business. All my staff are on the books and now Bartenders, Security, Porters, DJ’s and my cook are praying they can return to work sooner than later. I was approved for the PPP yet I received no money, WTF come on I need it now not in a week. If the intention is not to have businesses such as mine open up until next year say so so I can file Chapter 11 and stop having hope. The little money I have saved is keeping me in my home which is my first priority (family). To be in business for 9 years means I do things the right way and now you guys Shit all over us by not putting the little guy first over these big companies. Guess what? I can be broke as fuck but it don’t cost 1 fucking dime to vote—payback will be a BITCH!

 – The Social Butterfly/ Albert

The PPP is unusable for the hospitality industry. 
Without changes millions of paychecks will go permanently unprotected by way of mass business closures.
 – Max Katzenberg – New York Hospitality Coalition / Olmsted

This ppp loan not only doesn’t serve the majority of restaurants and bars properly – since 25% will not cover everything outside of payroll for 8 weeks – but won’t get us through more than those 8 weeks. Many of us are back paying rent now and will be a month behind if not more since sales started to decrease in February. In addition, please recognize how many employees each small business employs relative to the gross and net to evaluate the next round as a restaurant that employs 32 people (like one of mine) vs a store that employs 10 – even though our sales will be vastly different – garner very different expenses to be paid out of those sales! Restaurants and bars need a separate bill passed and we account for 70% of the small business group! In addition and lastly, once we are able to reopen we will be reopening to sales of probably lower than 50% less than what we depend on and for how long? Probably a long while. Unless the government wants to loan money only to see businesses close in six months, we will need a longer term solution that covers rent abatement or renegotiation mandated from the government as well as forgiveness of taxes, sales and payroll especially, eden if sales tax is just deferred. Six months to a year to two years won’t work for this community – we work on tight margins and owners LIVE off those margins! If the 10% isn’t there to pay them, then what? If they are shy 60%…. imagine that. This next round of ppp should have these considerations AND include payments to the owner/runners of small businesses. Many if not most will shudder if the owners can not survive, too, much less covering business expenses.

 – Alice’s Tea Cup 

Way to go SBA. Thanks for leaving small businesses in the dust while funding the behemoths. Let’s make sure the big chains get their millions.

 – Deborah Williamson, James

Restaurants need runway to be able to both re-open and still be in business in six months. The June 30th, 8 week window on loan forgiveness won’t be enough time to deploy the capital effectively. To make the most of the Government PPP investment, give us time to scale back up our business over the rest of the year. Throwing away money with the current “Use it or Lose it” policy hurts everyone: the restaurant that will be out of business as soon as the money is gone, the employee that will be back on unemployment, and the taxpayer that footed the bill on a short term stimulus that didn’t work. #FIXPPP

 – Freemans Restaurant

The PPP is not appropriate for bars and restaurants. The fact is, the culture of our country (and city!) are going to disappear without SERIOUS AID and an infusion (not loan) of cash. Without it, all the small independents (like me) will turn into more Chase Banks and Duane Reads Not only that, the people appointed to serve on the Food and Beverage committee of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups are a joke. We need SMALL independent Restaurant owners AS WELL AS bar owners in order to save our businesses. Those falling under NAICS code 722410 should also be involved in the conversation.

– Ivy Mix – Leyenda

My SBS loan application is paused due to lack of funds according to NYC SBS.  My PPP loan application is paused due to lack of funds according to my bank The EIDL loan gives ZERO information to any applicant, but according to every available news source, they are out of funds, and people applying are receiving a fraction of what they ask for. I applied in a timely manner (almost immediately) to EVERY available program. And I have received NOTHING in the way of help. To elected officials: What are you doing to fight for RELIEF for small businesses in our neighborhoods? What are you willing to fight for? Rent Relief? Rent Forebearance? Availability of BI insurance, even though ALL policies have a virus exclusion? Grants? additional Funding?? What??? I have not seen any of our officials stand up for us. The programs that were available were too little, and now even they have failed to reach millions of people. And failed to make a difference. (except perhaps to the Hilton conglomerate, or giant restaurant chains, or other giants who have full time accountants and lawyers at the ready at every possible second of the day and night). We closed our businesses to save lives. And now that our livelihoods (and by association our LIVES) are in peril, there is ZERO help. It is a shame. We NEED help with REAL relief. Please discuss what you are willing to fight for. Becasuse at this point a conversation about SBS and SBA programs is useless.

 – Von Design Ltd.

Are the loans being handled first come first served, as advertised? Or, are the banks using other criteria to decide. For example, Company Y submitted the PPP application on April 3, company X submitted their application on April 5. Company x has outstanding debt of $100,000 with Bank of America. Company Y has $10,000 debt outstanding with Bank of America. B of A wants company x to succeed more, they are approved. Good luck company Y. There should be an audit of the banks, regarding how they are processing the loans. Given that this was advertised as a SBA loan guaranteed by the US Government, with no collateral, no personal guarantee and no credit score necessary, the loans should have been approved and funded as soon as the documents were verified. That and, ALLOCATE MORE FUNDS!

 – Top Hops, Ted Kenny

We have been asked to shut down and we have complied We will be asked to operate at a very low capacity factor until there are more re-assurances about public safety. We will comply We have been offered PPP loans that while well-intentioned are Ill-conceived and do not address any of the factors impacting small restaurants liquidity and ability to stay in business Conversely, we are being told that: Insurance companies won’t cover any of our business interruption claims notwithstanding we have been asked to close in order to maintain public safety We are on our own as it relates to negotiating with our landlords— go see if you can strike some form of short term rent concession, but otherwise just pay rent, even though we have ZERO revenues and our revenues will be significantly curtailed for the foreseeable future We are being asked to pay March 2020 sales tax by April 2020 and to pay deferred sales tax by July 15. The deferral is unfortunately not sufficient as we will be cash strapped for the foreseeable future! Similarly other carrying costs, such as utilities and insurance premiums are just being deferred but only accumulating to the large amount of liabilities we will have So what do we need?? We need a strong and coordinated response from the Federal and State Government that addresses these issues and we need a solution that is fair and that splits the burden placed on our industry, amongst us, insurance companies and our landlords and their lenders. Specifically: We need insurance Companies to Pay our Business Interruption Claims. Period We need a framework by which lenders forego a portion (intuitively 25% to 50%) of mortgage payments related to commercial properties owned by our landlords through the end of 2020. In turn, we need landlords to forego an additional portion of rent so that restaurant owners are only liable for 50% of their stipulated rent (in other words, 50% rent forgiveness through the end of the year NOT rent deferral) We need forgiveness of 50% of our utility bills through the end of 2020

 – Llama Inn

You inept duly elected political hacks come up with solutions that don’t solve problems and then when your solution runs out, you are so mired in political agendas that you can’t even extend what you offered to those that need it. I’m also extremely upset that so much of these PPP funds when to large companies who broke up their applications so they looked like they had less than 500 employees and millions went to them first. The rest of us are still looking through the window for our crumbs. These loans do not save businesses but they are better than nothing. Get back to Washington and do your jobs rather than continuing to self serve your egos and needs for power. Extend these loans and, based on what was finished in less than two weeks, even your extension isn’t going to do much anyway. When the dust settles from this disaster, the economic death is going to far exceed the real ones.

 -Simply Divine

As a business that is in the process of opening our doors in the next month or so, I would like attention to be paid to businesses that were in the process of opening up. Specifically, there should be some sort of relief or expediting for all of the red tape and permitting that we still face (SLA, DOH, etc. etc.). Encouraging businesses to open and making the process simpler and more streamlined and less time consuming (6 month minimum to get a liquor license in this environment is deadly) will create jobs and badly needed tax revenue today instead of 6-8 months down the road.

 – Ethan Kahn

Now I don’t know, but I been told If the horse don’t pull you got to carry the load I don’t know whose back’s that strong Maybe find out before too long.

-Burger Supreme

We really need a thorough orchestration of every point in the financial food chain to justify why there are decisions left on the table not supporting everyone in the circle of business life with as much information at hand and what that looks like in our near and far futures. While we’ll always be the little guy and will always need the big guy, our elephant-like memories won’t fade today or 10 years from now; so please provide some sort of understanding and certain paths to come at your very best. We’re happy to be the highest taxed but we need leadership that reflects this fed from our bold ever-flowing circumspect.

 – Suited

We were approved and funded for the PPP. But we own a fine dining restaurant that is closed. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any forgiveness because we can’t open until NY opens up again and diners are comfortable returning. To make this program work, the 8 weeks needs to start when we can reopen. Secondly, many of our employees are earning more on unemployment than they did when they were working. What happens when we offer them a job, and they don’t want to return? The extra $600 from the federal government runs through July 31st, and we hope to reopen at the end of May. These programs need to be adjusted to make them work. Thanks!

– Denise Costa

We have been on the front line of submitting and communicating with the lenders and bankers for weeks and first and foremost as a small business, it is more evident than ever that the small banks have stepped up and they deserve and have earned our business. As a loyal chase banker prior to this, i can’t stress how disappointing this experience has been to many of our clients. I feel the same way with ALL the major banks. Lastly, Mr. Politician, fix your plan, this isn’t working for the business owner that is not and can not OPEN for 6 weeks. you are failing to provide them with a substantial stimulus that will get them out of the woods. what good is PPP forgiveness money for payroll if you CANNOT OPEN and have sales generated. WAKE UP and give business owners more time or a later start date to run payroll, how about when you lift the Quarantine!!!!

– Greg Scotto

Screw politics and stick to the dire needs of the people you represent and put more money in the pot for the hard working people in small business that is the lifeblood of this economy.
 
– Mitch Levey

Nothing much else to report for today.  We will be in the thick of it with landlords and PPP and the same shit as we wait for the virus to fizzle. 

As Mr. Garcia sang in one of the Dead’s greatest songs, Wharf Rat:  “I’ll get back on my feet someday …the good lord willin’… live the life I should”.

Hang in there.  Call your elected officials.  Make some noise and have a good weekend.

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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