Without customers coming through its doors, Triangle small businesses are turning to the government for help

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Staying home is key to helping stop the spread of COVID-19, but that means local shops and restaurants are hurting as customers aren’t coming through their doors.

Now many small businesses are turning to federal and local governments for help.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business for 30 years and March 17 was the most difficult day of my life.  We had to let go of 95 percent of our hourly associates,” said Bob Frame.

Frame is the president of VIM Holdings which owns 11 First Watch restaurants in eastern North Carolina. The grand opening of his newest location at Lake Boone Trail was Monday for take-out and delivery.

He says since Governor Cooper’s executive order banning dining in restaurants to stop the spread of COVID-19, Frame’s restaurants are doing seven percent of what their normal sales would be.

“Across the 11 restaurants in March for the remaining period of dining restrictions we lost over $1,000,000 in revenue,” said Frame.

Frame wants to make sure he’s doing everything he can to continue employing 49 managers, while making sure there is still a business to return to. Like many small business owners he’s hoping a loan from the federal government’s new CARES act will help.

Frame has also applied for an economic injury disaster loan.

“This can’t go on forever and we’re not going to give up,” he said.

Raleigh’s mayor, Mary-Ann Baldwin, says the city is also looking for ways to lend a hand to small businesses.

Officials say the city is pausing some of its small business grant programs, such as the Façade Rehabilitation program, to relocate funds elsewhere.

“We’re retooling some of the funding we’ve provided small businesses in the past, and looking at how we can do that better going forward to meet these new needs,” said Baldwin.

On Friday the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is hosting a webinar with Congressman David Price and Thomas Stith, district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration, about the CARES Act. Stith will answer questions about the impact of the legislation. 

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