A Chula Vista restaurant owner has been able to rehire his staff after receiving a Small Business PPP loan, but the future remains uncertain as current health restrictions cut into sales.
Casa Don Diego has been open for more than 50 years. Because of the pandemic, current owner Guillermo Gonzalez has been forced to completely transform his business.
“It was hard news to take because we had to make some harsh decisions right away: sending people home, our employees,” Gonzalez said.
Without dine-in service, and with the bar shut down, 70 percent of the staff was let go. Gonzalez immediately tried to take advantage of the government stimulus program for small businesses, but he wasn’t initially granted a loan.
“The news that big restaurant chains had gotten up to $20 million for one company was really devastating for me. I really thought I wasn’t going to get the money,” Gonzalez told NBC 7.
He didn’t give up. Gonzalez applied again and was granted a PPP loan in the second round of stimulus. Almost every employee came back to work -- a couple did choose to stay on unemployment instead.
“It’s a little bit of a catch 22 for them. Come back to work and not get their tips, because there isn’t much tipping going on,” Gonzalez said.
The small business loan will help pay the bills for the next couple of months, but beyond that, the future is uncertain. Gonzalez worries another virus outbreak could also keep customers away.
Despite the stress, Gonzalez is hoping his industry will rally.
“Just keep fighting. That’s what we do in the restaurant industry. Everyone knows us restauranteurs are always going through obstacles and doing what we can to keep going,” said Gonzalez.
The California Restaurant Association estimated 20 to 30 percent of the state’s restaurants could close permanently because of the COVID-19 pandemic.