Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.
This coronavirus lockdown can’t last forever. We’ll soon (hopefully) return to some sense of normalcy. Won’t it be nice to walk into a restaurant, sit down, and relax? You betcha.
I’ve been thinking about places I can’t wait to head back to after what seems years. And maybe I’ll hit some I’ve never patronized. Here are two examples.
First, plenty of locations, and boy it looks yummy.
Now let’s get fine and fancy.
Middleton, Wisconsin has one of these restaurants, but the Northbrook, Illinois location is actually much closer to our house.
And I love this:
PROPER ATTIRE REQUIRED PLEASE.
Kindly remove your hat when entering the restaurant.
There isn’t a single no-no pictured above.
So let’s get to it.
The federal government’s $349-million Payback Protection Program (PPP), according to the US Treasury Department, “provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees—including nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors—are eligible.”
This past Thursday the aid package ran out of money. But not before the companies that run Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Ruth Chris Steak House made out like bandits.
Chicago-based Potbelly Corporation got a $10 million loan from the PPP on April 10. And 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.
Ruth Chris Steak House restaurants employ about 5,700 people. For Potbelly the number is 6,000 people.
How can the two receive such huge loans?
The Treasury Dept. says, “Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries. “They include hospitality and restaurant companies. Congress expanded eligibility for restaurants so that companies could apply as long as they had no more than 500 workers at any single location.
The loans will be fully forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
Potbelly’s chief people officer, Matt Revord, told BuzzFeed News, “Every penny will be used to financially support the employees in our shops. Congress specifically qualified restaurants for the PPP loan program because restaurant workers are vital to our economy.”
A spokesperson for Ruth’s was also quoted by BuzzFeed News. “As a franchised organization, it is our responsibility to our nearly 30 small business owners, team members, customers and shareholders, to do everything we can to ensure Ruth’s Hospitality Group is well positioned to emerge from this situation a strong and viable entity,” the spokesperson said. “We will be following all guidelines set forth by the [Small Business Administration] in how the funds are being leveraged including payroll assurance for our team members in individual locations running our takeout and delivery business.”
“What a slap in the face to the untold thousands of legitimate small businesses that will not survive this crisis, many because they couldn’t get the help they were promised from the president soon enough, if at all,” said Derek Martin of the watchdog group Accountable.US.
Unfair is certainly one perception, especially when you consider other non-small businesses are getting big time government aid. An example is Quantum. The company makes computer storage devices and has 800 employees. Quantum just received a PPP loan of $10-million.
And then there’s the ever-popular…
The company got a $10-million loan.
Let’s go back to the US Treasury:
“Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.”
Shake Shack has laid off 1,000 employees.
CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES
And when the restaurants finally do re-open…