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PPP loans help small businesses, but for how long?

Hundreds of businesses across Southwest Florida got Paycheck Protection Program loans to help keep their doors open. Some say it has helped, but others worry it won’t be enough with such an uncertain future.

WINK News reached out to several businesses that received PPP loans. Most of them didn’t answer or wouldn’t talk about their financial situations. The exception: the owners of The Clam Bake Restaurant, who said the loan got them to this point, but they worry the cash won’t last long enough.

Laurie Thomas and her husband Mark have owned the restaurant for 16 years, through good times and now the bad.

“We have positive attitudes; we just have to keep going, you know, we’ve been through a lot,” Laurie said.

During the pandemic, the Thomases managed to stay open but they admit revenue plummetted 80 percent when everything shut down in March.

“That was the peak of our season; that was our busiest month,” Mark said.

“We never closed; we went right to curbside, and obviously when it was curbside it was minimal staff,” Laurie said.

Their saving grace? The government’s Paycheck Protection Program. Without it, “it would be him and I running this place, unfortunately,” Laurie said.

“Like at the beginning when we first had the business, she waited tables and I was in the kitchen and we had a dishwasher come in at four and that was it,” Mark added.

The couple got roughly $200,000 to keep the business going and their workers on the payroll.

“Knowing that we could pay our rent pay, our utilities, that was huge, it was a relief,” Laurie said.

It was a relief and a lifeline for the place they’ve dedicated their lives to.

With the recent spike in cases and uncertainty of the virus, they’re worried the money might not last as long as they’d originally thought.

“We budgeted the money for the eight weeks and now it’s extending,” Mark said.

The Thomases said they originally hoped to save some of the money, but now they know they’re going to spend it. They hope to stretch the cash out through the summer, but unless things get better soon, they’re not sure if they’ll make it to next season.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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