At the start of the pandemic, Arlington Kabob co-owner Susan Clementi spent 20 hours a day trying to coronavirus-proof her restaurant. She did not have time, or the financial knowledge, to navigate the Paycheck Protection Program.
When she tried to hire legal help, the application fees amounted to $5,000. Clementi realized she had to do it herself.
Arlington Kabob was denied funding, but what frustrated Clementi the most was seeing restaurants that had a dozen locations receive loans.
“I felt very, very small,” she said.
Her experience during the first round of PPP played out across the nation.
The Small Business Administration and the banks issuing the loans were criticized for awarding funds first to bigger companies while overlooking smaller and minority-owned businesses. For round two, the SBA opened applications for small-scale, local lenders this week, and is expanding access to all eligible lenders next Tuesday.
ARLnow spoke with a handful of restaurant owners who are waiting for the green light to apply. All of them said that if they get relief, their first order of business will be paying staff.
“Sometimes I have to go into personal money to pay my employees,” said Vince Johnson, the owner of Mexican street corn stand Shuck Shack in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. “I didn’t sign up for that.”
Sloppy Mama’s BBQ owner Joe Neuman said he would use the funds to cover wages and pay bills that he may not be able to afford in three weeks.
“We’re just trying to minimize losses, knowing that another round of PPP would be coming through at some point,” he said.
Those who applied last year struggled to navigate the application forms and process. After Neuman’s wife spent 14 hours on it, their accountant took over and submitted it at 11 p.m. the night before funds ran out, the BBQ joint’s owner said.
“We got real lucky,” he said.
Jessica Yanez is in a different boat. She is preparing for the grand opening of Los Chamacos along Columbia Pike. For her, the PPP loan would help cover wages until the county issues the last permit.
“We’re trying to open as soon as we can,” Yanez said. “We have people working for us, that’s why [Arlington Economic Development] told me about the PPP program.”
Some restaurant owners benefited from the significant office population, and remote work has tanked their catering revenues. Clementi said her Lee Highway location is supporting her November 2019 expansion into Courthouse, which thrived briefly on office lunches. Meanwhile, Neuman said his restaurant’s dinner sales have increased and sustain the near-total hits to his lunch-friendly Ballston Quarter location and catering outfit.
Some owners are taking on risks in a risky time. Yanez said she and her husband, Benedicto, had an opportunity and “had to take it.”
One year after Johnson opened, he acquired a food truck to serve people who are out and about. He is still figuring out how to run a food truck, but so far, the business is not what he thought.
“We’re seeing more people in the malls. People are not really paying attention to COVID-19 anymore, sad as it is,” he said, adding that this will prolong economic instability for eateries.
Although they face many hardships, these Arlington restaurateurs are dedicated to their communities and their roots.
“We decided to open this restaurant because we know the neighborhood,” Yanez said. “It’s a good neighborhood.”
Johnson is trudging through an application and inspection process to bring his truck to military installations.
“Being a vet myself, it was part of my plan putting this together,” he said.
Clementi thanked her customers for their support and has been providing discounts and free meals to first responders.
“We have to make everyone feel stronger by being there for each other,” she said.
In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village