Coronavirus economic updates: Shake Shack to return $10M stimulus loan

(NEW YORK) — The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health care crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending industries and sending financial markets reeling.

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Shake Shack to return $10 million government loan

Executives at the popular burger chain Shake Shack announced Monday they were returning the $10 million in government loans the company had received through the Paycheck Protection Program.

They also defended themselves against critics who slammed the company for accepting federal stimulus money that was touted for small businesses, and called on lawmakers to do more to help the hard-hit restaurant industry amid the pandemic.

“The ‘PPP’ came with no user manual and it was extremely confusing,” Danny Meyer, the CEO of parent company Union Square Hospitality Group, and Randy Garutti, the CEO of Shake Shack, said in a joint statement.

Shake Shack and Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) thought “the best chance of keeping our teams working, off the unemployment line and hiring back our furloughed and laid off employees, would be to apply now and hope things would be clarified in time,” they said.

Shake Shack’s operating losses have totaled over $1.5 million per week and USHG was forced to lay off more than 2,000 employees.

“If this act were written for small businesses, how is it possible that so many independent restaurants whose employees needed just as much help were unable to receive funding?” Meyer and Garutti said. “We now know that the first phase of the PPP was underfunded, and many who need it most, haven’t gotten any assistance.”

Shake Shack, however, was fortunate to “be able to access the additional capital we needed to ensure our long term stability through an equity transaction in the public markets” and the $10 million PPP loan will be returned “so that those restaurants who need it most can get it now,” they said.

“We urge Congress to ensure that all restaurants no matter their size have equal ability to get back on their feet and hire back their teams,” Meyer and Garutti continued.

Moreover, they called on lawmakers to fund the PPP program “adequately.”

“It’s inexcusable to leave restaurants out because no one told them to get in line by the time the funding dried up. That unfairly pits restaurants against restaurants,” they said. “This industry rises and falls together. And if there is a concern that once again the government will have not allocated adequate funding, then send business to the front of the PPP line which has more limited access to outside funding.”

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