The $2 trillion stimulus funds such as PPP (Paycheck Protection Plan) were just recently made available—$349 billion allotted for small businesses—and already it’s completely gone. We have to ask, where did the money go?
As it turns out, more than just small businesses were going after it. A recent GQ article calls out Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse as a large recipient (like $20M) of PPP dollars. And after reading through this article, you’ll be scratching your head, with so many small businesses in the US trying to survive (estimated one out of five won’t), why did Ruth’s make the cut? Like the ship which is sinking and the rich are escorted first to the only lifeboat—who is receiving these SB loans in our SLC community?
“Becky (my wife) and I start a live Instagram show Sundays at 2pm to talk tea and tea-cocktails. Our customers have been amazing, our online orders are what is keeping us afloat.”—Scott Lyttle, Owner Tea Zaanti, Sugar House
Well, for starters, Tea Zaanti didn’t. Scott and Becky Lyttle, Owners of SLC’s local Tea Zaanti share their SB loan-seeking horror story:
Tea Zaanti (1944 South 1100 East) is a small tea shop in the heart of Sugar House. The business recently relocated after spending six-months renovating a beautiful old building to create a communi-tea space for neighbors to have a comfortable spot for a cup of tea (or wine) and snack. “We closed our old location on February 11 and finally passed all the Health Department, DABC and City inspections in early March (no small feat). To kick things off we hosted a “friends and family” event and opened our doors to the public on March 11 only to close them four days later,” says Scott.
“We have been very conservative in our approach to business and encouraging folks to stay-at-home. We provided free packaged tea pickup for two weeks and switched to offering free shipping for all orders over $15 through our website. We will be switching back to free pickup on April 22. We are forecasting a 40-50% drop in revenue over the next 7 months, 25% of our business is through our wholesale accounts, which are all closed or doing 15% of their business. But we’ve made a commitment to keep our employees on staff—we had to reduce our manager from full-time to 20hrs/week. We created Educate-From-Home projects, encouraging staff to enhance their knowledge of tea and wine, create new customer engagement ideas, and we all virtually watch a documentary together weekly.”
The Loan Process:
Here’s how it didn’t work for us:
SLC ELP – we got rejected first round and haven’t heard about the second round
Utah Leads Together loan – we got rejected first round and haven’t heard about the second round
PPP – we got rejected first round and we are hoping a second round will come available
“We understand that these opportunities are a bonus and have been put together very quickly, but from our standpoint, they have been mismanaged from the beginning. Let me be clear, due to the fact that we purchased a building in September of 2019, we’ve been knee-deep in renovations, inspections and opening a new space—our books needed some attention. We’ve addressed that. That being said, no one has been available to help guide us through any of these applications and most of the portals get overwhelmed and shut down, locking you out of the application or deleting your information, meaning that you are required to start over.”
“The PPP through our bank has been the worst. We filled out step one of the application within two hours of getting the application link. One week passed, no word. Finally, we were asked to log in and we’d be asked for additional information. We weren’t given a heads-up asto what information would be asked of us. So I logged in and they asked for payroll data, our 941 forms, all of which I have, but needed to organize to provide the correct information. While I was organizing the documents, the portal timed me out of my session and wouldn’t allow me back into the application. THen I got a message saying my application was in the final stages. So I emailed my contact at the bank, and I emailed a general address, telling them I still owed information but couldn’t get in the system to add it. Next thing I know I’m reading the money has run out. I email my banker and he tells me it looks like we were pre-approved. And then I get an email saying that we didn’t receive funding for this round because we were missing information from our application – no kidding!!!!”
“Now we hope that funding might be available in a second round for each program.”
And with all our hearts, we at SLmag hope second rounds go better too, for you at Tea Zaanti and other small and deserving businesses that need this. Own a small business? How did your PPP or loan application process go? Please let us know: email@example.com.
Stay well SLC, and for all the powers that be in this mess, get on it.
Former Salt Lake Magazine Associate Editor Jen Hill is a SLC transplant from Bloomington, Ind. As a blogger and feature writer, Jen follows the pulse of the community with interests in urban agriculture, business, fitness & beauty and anything that allows her to get out of the office and into the mountains.