Struggling restaurant operators in this country have a lot to worry about right now. And not to add one more thing to that list, but if you are a struggling restaurant owner, you need to stop what you’re doing and go learn about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was put into place as part of the federal response to the chaos the COVID-19 pandemic is causing.
Don’t believe me? Then listen to Ryan Palmer, a lawyer and partner at Lathrop GPM who specializes in restaurant law. He joined us as a featured speaker during our COVID-19 Virtual Strategy Summit today and had a lot of great advice for restaurant owners trying to weather this storm.
Paramount among that advice was the need to learn about the PPP, a loan program devised to help small businesses keep workers employed. These are loans that are made by your lender (not the Small Business Administration), but you need to act quickly to get one. There’s $349 billion dollars for relief in there but when it’s gone, it’s gone. So if you are looking for federal relief you need to get your application in now.
In addition to being fast, restaurant owners need to be smart. As Palmer explained, the whole situation is very fluid and changing by the day. It would behoove people to call up their lawyer to help them navigate all of the ins and out of the program.
You can also use your lawyer to help you negotiate new terms in contracts that pre-corona were probably off the table. Palmer said a good place to start would be with your landlord because, as he said, “A landlord wants tenants in its spaces and a tenant wants to be in the space.” The landlord may want to keep that space occupied instead of having the space go dark or need to be re-rented and therefore be more flexible in terms of when rent is paid, etc. If you’re a franchise, Palmer said you can talk with your franchisor about continuing fees and advertising fees.
Another suggestion from Palmer, which is actually pretty evergreen, is to check your insurance. As restaurants are pivoting to delivery or even curbside pickup, make sure that your business and employees are properly covered. As a good follow up, you should also check your local ordinances and lease to see what types of conveniences (drive-up window, curbside drop off, etc.) that you can actually provide for your customers.
The whole chat was actually very illuminating and filled with solid, boots-on-the-ground type advice; you should watch the whole thing (select Legal Considerations & Strategies for Restaurant Operators During COVID-19 from the drop down menu in the upper right of the embedded player below). We may not know what the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be on the restaurant industry, but learning about the PPP is something every restaurant owner should be doing right now.
You can watch the full session with Ryan Palmer below or check it out on Crowdcast.