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City of Palm Desert offers $800K loan program for struggling restaurant owners

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The fries are frying and takeout is going out the door at Grill-A-Burger in Palm Desert.

But, they need more business.

"It's tough, you just don't know what is going to come down. Just when you think it's good news, it's not. One day you are open outdoors the other day you are not," said owner Salima Nurani.

Nurani and restaurant owners like her have been hit especially hard by state directives ordered in response to Covid-19.

Her business and staff are now half of what they usually are.

"We are all doing what we can. Sometimes it's what works best for the moment," said Nurani.

To help, the City of Palm Desert is offering the "Restaurant Recovery Loan Program".

It's a total of $800,000.

The loans are offered in $5,000 increments, plus $1,000 per employee.

The loan amount maxes out at $10,000.

To receive a loan, restaurant owners must agree to follow state public health orders.

For now, only take-out is allowed.

"My predecessors created emergency funds. If ever there was an emergency this is it," said Palm Desert Mayor Kathleen Kelly.

Nurani has already applied for a loan and has received an email from the city showing preliminary approval.

Nurani says the city has been especially supportive of restaurant owners who follow the state's public health orders.

In fact, last fall she says the city awarded her restaurant a $20,000 loan.

In mid-December, Alcohol and Beverage Control cited two Palm Desert restaurants for not following state Covid-19 orders.

Armando's Bar and Grill and JC's Patio Cafe were cited.

Since then, Piero's Pizzavino has also been cited.

Pepe Ortega, the owner of Los Pepe's Mexican Grill says he continues to follow state orders and has also received preliminary approval for the new loan program.

"Anything that helps at this moment, because the situation at hand is not good," said Ortega.

LINK TO APPLY FOR RESTAURANT LOAN

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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