NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey restaurant owner who tapped into his home equity line to pay health insurance for his full-time workers is back in business.

“We’re all just holding on, you know,” Mark Jakubowiski told CBS2’s Cory James.

For Jakubowiski, this is what hope looks like — food being wheeled down a ramp and pushed right into his restaurant, Old Man Rafferty’s in New Brunswick.

“Overwhelming joy. Almost as good as your first born. It was just amazing,” Jakubowiski said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The 30-year restaurateur is among the thousands of business owners who could not afford to stay open because of COVID-19.

Like many of them, he applied for the Paycheck Protection Program loan for help.

After weeks of waiting, the anticipated news came in.

“Phone call comes out five days later I got funded. I put phone call out. We’re going to open,” Jakubowiski said.

That’s why Thursday his employees were back on the clock, sweeping the ground, wiping down tables, cleaning walls and doing all the necessary prep work for customers picking up orders.

“It’s something to do, to get out of the house, especially when school is over, so I was excited,” one employee said.

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to work and serve the people,” another employee said.

By noon Friday, business was back open.

It was a nice change for Susanna Jivotovski.

“It gives me a feeling of, like, future and possibility to know that folks are able to have their jobs back and continue making income for families,” she said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

The $600,000 PPP loan will last Jakubowski about four weeks.

Out of his 120 employees, 80 will be back to work at the New Brunswick location and the one he owns in Hillsborough.

It’s a big win for a man who is being shaped by this experience every day.

“It’s taking a toll emotionally, yeah. It’s uh, it’s rough,” Jakubowiski said.

But it’s getting better.

The restaurant has already gotten calls for take-out orders, and along with their order, customers get to leave with free a roll of toilet paper.

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