The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, pandemic. Due to restrictions against large gatherings, many restaurants have been forced to close or offer takeout service only. Since the roll out of the stimulus package and its various relief programs aimed toward small businesses, there has been a lot of controversy about how the loans have been distributed—including a lack of money sent to marginalized communities.
Luckily, for one historic restaurant, a coronavirus relief loan came just in time.
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a well-known historic restaurant located in Washington, D.C., that was trying to adapt to the new reality but was struggling to stay afloat. Thankfully, a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program came through. The U Street institution can stay open and continue to feed its loyal patrons.
Sage Ali, a member of the Ali family that owns the restaurant chain, says that the business’ bank informed him that the application for the loan was approved for the second round of PPPs since it was rejected the first time around.
“Things are good … and we’re very thankful for that,” Ali said in an interview with Shoppe Black.
As of right now, the chain has not received the money but Ali said that it should cover at least two months of the payroll for the four restaurants that the family owns. During the COVID-19 pandemic, only the original restaurant has remained open for takeout and delivery.
Although the loan will save the institution, Ali says adapting to the new reality will still be a challenge given the restaurant’s history as a popular gathering spot for locals. “As you know, the Chili Bowl has been a real community gathering place, and we’ve created where the community goes,” said Ali. “Even beyond the DMV, it has become a global community gathering place.”