French Laundry’s PPP loans were 17 times higher than everyone else’s
The pandemic has been a difficult time for French laundry. Since the region’s food industry closed, its founder has tweeted his support for our controversial president, and the place has become a magnet for politicians who have told voters to stay home and dine alone. while enjoying sumptuous and unmasked parties on its Yountville patio. And now it’s also a symbol of the iniquity of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was supposed to help ‘mom-and-pop’ businesses survive the coronavirus crisis – but sent a much-vaunted restaurant 2 , $ 4 million, while small businesses that were denied closed funds across the country.
You remember the PPP program. Launched by the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) in the summer of 2020, the program pledged loans that were supposed to allow small businesses struggling with the brunt of coronavirus-related shutdowns to retain their employees for up to eight weeks. after acceptance of funds. . The problem was that most applicants did not get any loans before the program ran out of funds, while big chains and leading companies have raked in millions.
As Eater reported in July, although the loans were intended for small businesses, companies like Shake Shack, Sweetgreen and PF Chang’s received six-digit checks (Shake Shack and Sweetgreen repaid their loans following a public outcry).
The French Laundry, the 3 Michelin star venue of chef Thomas Keller, also received two large loans, for a total of $ 2.4 million, ABC 7 reports, to retain a total of 167 employees. The loans, both of which were approved on April 30, 2020, are “17 times more than what the average Bay Area restaurant has received” – and that only counts restaurants that were able to secure loans before l depletion of funds.
Keller’s loans were approved less than two weeks after celebrity chef demanding took to Twitter to scold the so-called “haters” who were troubled by his support for President Trump. After Keller tweeted that he was “honored” that Trump asked him (along with three other white leaders) to join the White House’s “Great American Economic Revival Industry Group”, hundreds of Keller fans and enemies . asked why he was playing ball with the problematic president, and to join a group so strikingly lacking in diversity. “II, along with many of my colleagues, have decided that we have to fight in an attempt to save our industry as a whole. While we can fight for different things, it’s for one goal, ”Keller replied in a tweet. “Whether it’s the broken P3, the need for insurance for businesses, or unprecedented economic hardship, every problem is serious … Shame on those who think working with the federal government is wrong.
Whether it’s the broken PPP, the need for insurance for businesses, or unprecedented economic hardship, every problem is serious. The livelihoods of over 15 million people are currently at stake. Shame on those who think working with the federal government is wrong.
– Thomas Keller (@Chef_Keller) April 16, 2020
It is not clear if there is any PPP money left over from Keller when the restaurant reopened for indoor dining in September with an “experience” of $ 850 per person that included ambitious menu signifiers. like Dom Perignon, truffles, caviar, foie gras, and wagyu beef. Likewise, on November 6, when Governor Gavin Newsom attended birthday dinner unmasked for lobbyist Jason Kinney, or the next day, when The mayor of SF London Breed also attended a party there, that money was probably gone.
(The two visits by these politicians to the French laundry took place at the same time they made passionate appeals to voters not to meet with members outside of their homes and stay home as much as possible. Both have have since apologized and said they regretted attending the dinners at Keller Restaurant.)
At the time of publication, the French Laundry is set to close again for seated service, as Bay Area ICU beds have fallen below 15% and the whole region must now comply with the state stay-at-home order. It’s unclear what Restaurant Keller will do next – is an $ 850 meal still worth $ 850 when it comes in a box? – but one thing seems certain: for three weeks, maybe more, California executives will have to find another restaurant to meet for politically risky meals.