North Bay businesses begin rehire workers with first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans

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From thousands of North Bay businesses who were seeking part of the $ 350 billion pot of wage relief funding before it dried up in mid-April were two Santa Rosa companies: Clone Printing and Copy and Jackson’s Bar & Oven restaurant.

They were among the lucky ones to get loans from lenders participating in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, intended to help small businesses rehire employees and pay for key expenses during the foreclosure. economy in the event of a coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, Clone Printing and Copy once again welcomed its workers on leave since mid-March. She received a loan of $ 56,000 faster than many small businesses under the COVID-19 relief program.

Ellen Zalman-Rai, a former Silicon Valley lawyer, director and co-owner of Clone Printing with her husband Surendra, said their employees support between 20 and 30 family and extended family members, so it was essential for them to receive these funds to provide income while the business has experienced a 75-80% drop in revenue due to the shelter-in-place order.

They will open while maintaining social distancing and only allowing one person in the store at a time.

“Our print-on-demand business fills the short-term digital niche market where customers need to print fast – or tell us they needed it yesterday,” Zalman-Rai said.

Printing clones is considered an essential business and works with local clients such as the Cotate-Rohnert Park school district to print tutorials for use by children who stay at home for the rest of the school year. The company has contracts with the City of Santa Rosa Park and Recreation Division and works with Legal Aid, the YWCA and a variety of local businesses, wineries, cannabis companies, and non-profit organizations such as the Five Keys Schools and Program. It also offers those looking for work a free CV copying service as a community service.

“For us, a major issue is whether the pandemic curve really flattens out or if the peak is going to move further down the road. PPP funds will only help us for about two months. Several of our staff have been with us for 15 to 20 years and we don’t want to lose them. They are like a family. If another stimulus package is offered, hopefully we can apply again, but we won’t take it if we don’t need it. “

Zalman-Rai said the pandemic has forced them to change the way they do business.

“We are now using a polyester based paper that can be cleaned and disinfected when used as a restaurant menu or to print products needed by Kaiser and Sutter for infection control purposes,” she said. .

Several uncertainties remain. As Clone Printing will still be able to source paper from China and Portugal, two major suppliers. The company is also focusing more on the production of labels and offering packaging services.

“One thing is for sure, we are all in the same boat,” said Zalman-Rai. “Paper is an essential product that everyone uses. It cannot all be done digitally. Our two biggest expenses are payroll and machine rental. Some of our large printing systems rent up to $ 20,000 per month.

The stakes are heating up for the reopening of the restaurant

Also on Monday, Jackson’s Bar & Oven at 135 Fourth St. in Santa Rosa brought back the first wave of 10 former staff and handed out 18 paychecks. Until the paycheck protection program check arrived in the company’s account on April 7, the deal was “going on steam,” said Josh Silver, who owns the business with his wife. , Regina. The couple previously owned the Syrah restaurant at City 205 Building.

Jackson’s employed 43 workers, including four in the kitchen as well as waiters, bussers and others. Josh Silver said they kept their five salaried employees when they let the others go after they closed their doors on March 17. The loan financing covered the labor costs.

“We plan to reopen Thursday April 30 for take out,” said Josh Silver. “Everyone at Jackson will be wearing masks and when customers are allowed to dine again, we are considering reducing our occupancy rate to maintain adequate separation, currently at 160 seats, by 50%. This is all happening as Regina and I also move into our new home after losing our old home to the Tubbs fire.

The payday loan program forgiveness period ends in June, but Silver is hoping the deadline will be extended or that a new loan program could emerge to give small businesses a second chance, because he doesn’t think so. that the economy will mostly be pulled out of thin air. of the year.

Two years ago, the Silvers expanded Jackson’s to include the neighboring property, giving them a total of three mezzanine seating areas, two street-level dining areas, and the iconic bar near the lobby.

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