French Laundry, an upscale restaurant in Napa, California, where Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom was caught violating his own coronavirus lockdown rules, got more than $2.4 million in loans from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
The loans were reportedly used to retain the restaurant’s 160 employees.
The SFist website reported on SBA’s release of data on the program, created when Congress passed the Cares Act in the Spring:
ABC 7 reports that Thomas Keller’s flagship restaurant in Yountville had two loan approved on April 30, one for $2.2 million to retain 163 employees, and another for around $200,000 to retain five other employees. That amounts to about 17 times more federal money that the average Bay Are restaurant received — and it’s another example of a larger, wealthier business reaping stimulus benefits that many smaller businesses didn’t have access to.
The lack of equity in how these federal stimulus funds were distributed is becoming more and more glaring as we close out a year in which thousands of independent restaurants across the country have gone under. Last week we learned that companies tied to Governor Gavin Newsom and his family received $2.9 million in PPP funds, and two weeks ago we first learned that big chain restaurants like P.F. Chang’s and TGI Friday’s received the maximum-sized loans available, which were $10 million.
According to data received by ABC 7, 5,450 full-service restaurants in the Bay Area received PPP loans this year, which are forgivable if they are primarily used to pay employee salaries. As we learned via the New York Times, 87 percent of the loans made in the program were for $150,000 or less, and large companies including prominent law firms and restaurant chains consumed about one quarter of the total money available.