Restaurant owners await financial assistance or fear losing businesses

Miserable, exhausting and frustrating. They’re all words restaurant owners are using to describe the last nine months of business.
Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 10:22 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Miserable, exhausting and frustrating.

They’re all words restaurant owners are using to describe the last nine months of business.

“It’s a roller coaster,” said Chris Dixon. “I don’t recommend this for anybody. It’s been brutal, but I have an amazing wife, a family. It’s hard.”

Chris Dixon, who owns Christopher’s Eats in Barboursville, says he’s tried finding creative ways to keep customers flowing. But all the while, as bills continue to roll in and without any revenue replacement, Dixon said it’s hard to keep his head above water.

“You try to cut what costs you could, but that’s not easy, because we already operate on an already small profit margin anyways,” he said.

Congress has passed a $900 billion COVID relief package, but inside was nothing specifically for restaurants. It’s a sector of the economy which is projected to lose $240 billion in sales by the end of the year.

“I have a job to do everyday to try and keep everybody fed here, customers and my employees,” said Mark Cross.

In Huntington, Mark Cross, owner of 21 at the Frederick, says it’s his life’s passion to stay and run his restaurant, but it’s been anything but easy with restrictions limiting capacity in place.

“I’ve took on more debt but we’re still here, and a lot of people can’t say that right now, unfortunately,” Cross said.

The stimulus includes $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and another $20 billion in small business grants.

Downtown at Le Bistro, Chris Craven chose a different program that better suited his needs.

“We ended up utilizing the employee retention tax credit; most people used PPP loans,” Craven said. “If you use PPP loans, you’re automatically disqualified from being able to use the ERTC. Which is kind of why I was afraid of it in the beginning, anyways, looking at everything.”

The National Restaurant Association says the industry lost more than 17,000 jobs in November.

Dixon hasn’t yet had to lay off or furlough anyone, but says he only has one Christmas wish. He’s hoping that he’ll continue having the opportunity to serve up food and drinks in 2021.

“I think the biggest thing would be that we would still be open, that we made it, that we made it through,” he said.

It’s still unclear when the funding from the federal government will be available.

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