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Cape Coral restaurant holds out for PPP loan, employee struggles after layoff

Thousands of small businesses nationwide are getting a second chance at a financial lifeline, as the federal government is beginning to hand out another $310 billion dollars Monday.

Some Southwest Florida business owners are desperate for a cash infusion, not just to stay in business but to feed the families of their employees.

One of those businesses is Duval Street restaurant in Cape Coral. The owner recently had to make tough layoffs and is upset he can’t do more to immediately help the families of employees. One of his employees spoke to us about her current struggle since having to be let go.

“We don’t have a washer, and I don’t have the money to get to a laundromat,” said Christine Bowen, an employee recently laid off from Duval Street. “I went to Kiwanis and thrift stores just to buy new blankets, just so they can get these ones off of their bed.”

Bowen is a single mother, and she’s currently unemployed. Recently, there was a week she could only afford instant noodles to feed her family.

“It was cheap. It was my last paycheck … Depression sets in,” Bowen said. “I’m not the kind of person that asks people for help.”

But for her daughters, Bowen knew she had to. So she called her boss, a man who can’t believe he had to close his restaurant and lay off 27 employees.

“I told her, ‘Meet me this morning. I have some frozen burgers. I’ll give you something,” said Vollen Loucks, owner of Duval Street.

It’s something Loucks knows he can’t do for everyone but was a significant gesture for Bowen and her children.

“What about my other 26 employees that I’m not feeding today or I’m not paying?” Loucks said.

All Loucks can do is pray a Paycheck Protection Program loan will finally come through this second time around, he said.

“It’s heart wrenching,” Loucks said. “I’m trying to be calm about it, but I’m upset because it affects a lot of people’s lives.”

Now, it’s a waiting game for the new loan payments and the wonder over whether they will ever come.

“It bothers my stomach,” Louck said. “I don’t have much confidence in it. I just hope that we get it.”

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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