A Loudoun County restaurant owner attended an event at the White House Tuesday to speak about the effects of the COVID-19 shutdown on restaurants and the success of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the coronavirus outbreak, according to SBA.gov. The Small Business Administration will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.
Speaking before President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday, Tony Stafford, chef and owner of Ford's Fish Shack, said he was able to rehire over 100 employees who had been laid off once he was approved for the new government funded loan.
"Over the last six weeks, my three restaurants have been devastated by dining room closures. I had to furlough over 100 people," Stafford said. "That was an incredibly hard phone call to make and tell my employees that we just don't have a space for you. I've never had to lay off a single employee. It was extremely hard, very emotional, and one of the hardest choices I've ever had to make."
Stafford promised his employees he would do his best to bring them back, saying he would "fight every day tooth and nail."
Stafford said it has been "awesome to be able to tell them we're going to weather this storm."
"We're going to get through this and we're going to be stronger and more agile once this is over, I look forward to the one day when all restaurants and all small businesses can reopen and be as successful as they were before," he said.
Stafford did not wish to disclose the loan amount his company received through the PPP.
Ford's Fish Shack operates restaurants in Ashburn, South Riding and Lansdowne.