SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – San Francisco restaurants and bars are fighting to stay afloat amid the coronavirus.

They were either forced close or operate on a take-out only basis.

Now, some are receiving a much needed lifeline: the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP loans.

“You’ve got the cost that it takes to buy the food and drink that you’re selling to people. You’ve got payroll, rent, utilities and those are the biggest ones. That accounts for probably 85-90% of your costs,” Nat Cutler said. 

Nat Cutler is the co-owner of Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco’s Mission District.

The neighborhood tavern closed their doors on March 17 – following the city’s shelter in place order, which forced them to cut a majority of staff and transition to take out and delivery services.

Cutler says he started looking at all options for help.

“Cutting the payroll, talking to the landlord and credit cards so we’re kind of like alright we’re deferring things off, we’re pushing things down the line to just give ourselves some time by doing that, that helped initially. We also had a pretty good stock of older and highly sought after beer in our cellar and decided you know what this is our own little stimulus package. We’ve been building this up for the last decade plus. It’s time to liquidate,” Cutler said. 

While this bought them some time, Cutler says it still wasn’t enough to keep the business going past May.

That’s until the Monk’s Kettle received a life line, the PPP loan within the first round.

“Getting the PPP loan mid April was like oh god, thank god, thank god. Again it doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. This is a very long trail, it’s still very dark but at least it gives us a lot better chance to get through,” Cutler said. 

PPP loans give small businesses short term cash flow assistance and can only be used for things like payroll, rent and utilities.

Cutler says he has since brought back staff.

“We brought back all of our full time employees which felt great to be able to say, “hey I can pay you! Thank god I can pay you!” Culter said. 

While it gives the bar relief for now, Cutler says the loan has its limitations.

“Supposed to use it in eight weeks and we have no idea how long this is all going to go on and what happens mid june when alright I’ve gone through the 8 weeks of my PPP loan,” Cutler said. 

There’s even more limitations for businesses that are completely closed. 

You have to pay the loan back in two years. Also, the loan’s only forgiven if at least 75% of the forgiven amount is used to keep employees on the payroll.

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