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Cape Coral restaurant gets PPP loan, brings back half its staff to reopen

One southwest Florida restaurant can now make ends meet.

Duval Street in Cape Coral says it received its money through the Paycheck Protection Program and already brought half his staff back Thursday.

Employees say this is a step in the right direction for their families and told us they were excited when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced restaurants can reopen with certain restrictions. The employees say they’ve been struggling to pay bills and didn’t know how much longer they could go without work after being laid off for more than a month.

“I knew that website was going to crash,” said Todd Ruhf, the bar manager at Duval Street. “I gave it time to let everybody else get theirs in.”

Many employees here still haven’t received unemployment. Now, they’re getting back to work.

I’m excited. I’m just, I’m far in the hole, you know?” Ruhf said. “I got to go out and make some money. Otherwise, I’ll have nowhere to live. I don’t have food.”

More than half the employees are coming back after the owners were finally able to get a small business loan through the PPP.

“Do I feel a little better? Did I sleep better last night? Yeah, I did,” said owner Vollen Loucks, the chef and partner at Duval Street,

But getting the loan wasn’t easy. The program ran out of money before Duval Street were approved the first time around. But, with this approval, there comes optimism.

“It means there’s a definite future,” Loucks said. “We actually overstaffed for the next week. I can send people home. But at least they can come to work. Because a lot of people are going crazy at home as well. Plus, they need to make money.”

Duval Street’s goal is to bring back all of the employees it had to lay off. The restaurant says how quickly that will happen depends on how much business comes here after reopening.

And they know health and safety must be priorities if they’re going to keep their doors open.

“We just got to be careful with everything,” Ruhf said.

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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