[caption id="attachment_203097" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Restaurants dealt with a rollercoaster year with COVID-19 precautions and state restrictions, Of the 364 HELP Loan recipients, 255 were restaurants. | C/O Erik Mclean.[/caption]
WILMINGTON — Some of the state’s biggest names in restaurants secured six-figure loans through the Delaware Division of Small Businessvia the Hospitality Emergency Loan Program(HELP) before it closed out Oct. 15.Restaurants and popular eateries like two separate franchises of The Greene Turtle, Harry Savoy’s Grill, Pat’s Pizza in Lewes, and Caffe Gelato were among the top 10 loan recipients of the program, according to data released by the state. They were among the 364 businesses that received between $180,000 and $482,340 in state-backed loans.The HELP Program was created by Gov. John Carney last year as a way to lend financial aid to the hospitality sector, as many faced the brunt of social distance guidelines and periodic shutdowns. Loans were capped at $10,000 a month for a business that has been in operation for at least a year and has an annual revenue below $2.5 million.The loans have a 10-year term with payments deferred for nine months but favorably have no interest.Breaking down which businesses that did receive the state loan, about 255 were restaurants, eateries, breweries, bars and caterers, according to a Delaware Business Times analysis. The total includes roughly 50 personal care businesses (salons, spas and tanning shops); 25 entertainment and recreation venues; 24 hotels and lodging; and 11 gyms.“This continues to show that restaurants were detrimentally impacted by the pandemic more than any other businesses,” Delaware Restaurant Association Presidentand CEO Carrie Leishman said. “We’re very grateful that we were able to get many rounds of these loans and grants — more than any other across the state — because early on, it helped many restaurants survive.”In total, the program allocated $10.7 million to 364 businesses. In February, the state reported 307 businesses received a HELP loan, indicating that the program had become less popular in the last six months. The state-operated program was reportedly less popular than the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), where loans ultimately were mostly forgiven if businesses fulfilled several requirements.Among the top recipients were two limited liability companies registered to The Greene Turtle in New Castle County, with a combined $482,340. The sports bar chain is franchisee, so a second Greene Turtle owned by Pusan Investments collected $384,092.Harry Savoy’s Grill received $345,204 through the state program, while Pat’s Pizza in Lewes got $192,612 and Caffe Gelato received $180,000.Downtown Wilmington restaurants and bars also leaned on the program, with Bardea, Stitch House Brewery, Crow Bar, Toscana, Constitution Yards Beer Garden and Wilmington Brew Works among the beneficiaries. Newark’s dining scene mainstays Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen and Martuscelli Restaurant Group venues Klondike Kate’s and La Casa Pasta also tapped into the funds. Rehoboth Beach favorites like Dolle’s Candyland and Touch of Italy received HELP funds, while two Off The Hook Restaurant Group eateries received assistance. La Vida Hospitality Group, known for Crooked Hammock and Big Chill Beach Club, secured loans as well.Loan sizes greatly varied, but more than half of the businesses received $10,000 in funding and 32 businesses received six-digit loans. The average loan size was $29,503, according to a DBT analysis. “Some small businesses may not have the resources for funding during the early stages of the pandemic, but they may not have been eager to take on debt so early on. Restaurants are known for having thin profit margins, and if not for the HELP loans, they may not have made it,” Leishman noted.The data also shows that 13 local and regional chain eateries and franchises received funding. That includes three Saladworks, two Manhattan Bagels, two Capriotti’s, a Checkers, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Twisted Yogurt, among others. Wilmington-based El Diablo Burritos, with five locations in New Castle County, secured the largest amount of these chains at $161,084.Aside from the Greene Turtles owned by Pursan LLC, only four entities spanned multiple counties received HELP loans and all are local groups: Arena’s ($81,424) with six locations in Kent and Sussex counties; Brick Works Brewing and Eats ($40,986) with one location in Smyrna and Milford each; Arena’s ($81,424) with six locations in Kent and Sussex counties; Ashby Hospitality Group ($100,000), which owns Deer Park Tavern, Cantwell’s Tavern in Odessa, and McGlynns Pub; and Touch of Italy ($167,875) which has many locations at Delaware’s beaches and closed its Wilmington restaurant last spring.
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