NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Small businesses impacted by the coronavirus have been struggling to get help.

Banks say money set aside by Congress ran out within minutes, and as lawmakers look to put in more cash, business owners are hoping they won’t be left out.

Many mom and pop shops have been forced to either close their doors or do things differently, reported CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.


“We’re OK right now, but we’re worried about what’s going to come,” said Rick Martinez, founder of Senor Sangria, which is based in Maplewood, N.J.

“I have to figure out how to sell, how to make more money during this time, right? The new normal,” he said.

Martinez has got a team of brand ambassadors, a small staff and works with a number of vendors. They’re all taking a hit. To try and help, he applied for the government’s Paycheck Protection Program through his community bank.

“That would allow us to have eight weeks of payroll, to allow us to pay our employees,” he said.

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But as of now, he hasn’t gotten anything. That’s because the roughly $350 billion fund wasn’t enough.

“I’ve heard from a lot of small businesses like Rick’s that ultimately didn’t get a fighting chance,” said New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.

Menendez says they’re working now to not only to replenish the fund, but do things a bit differently.

“The pot of money that we’re providing to disadvantaged businesses, which was not a condition of the first tranche, and there are other safeguards that we’re hoping create a more level playing field,” Menendez said.

John Winterman has been in the restaurant industry for over 30 years. He says the federal program was anything but fair.

“For a lot restaurants I think that are struggling right now, $32,000 or the $48,000, that would make all the difference to them, in making sure they can keep some staff and making sure they can pay rent and keep up on utilities,” he said. “And I hope another round comes through, because I think it was terribly unfair of the system that was put in place, where a publicly-held company can walk away with $10 million or $20 million.”

Winterman’s latest restaurant, Francie, was in the process of being built in Williamsburg when the lockdown orders were put in place. He expects to be just fine, but he is concerned when the economy reopens, the neighborhood won’t quite look the same.


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