ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) — From safety restrictions to occupancy limits, it appears bars and restaurants can’t catch a break during the pandemic.
Some business owners are deciding to shut their doors for good to ease financial woes.
But some business owners tell KDKA that they’re leaving with more debt as they walk away.
Ozzie and Flavia Naccarato, owners of the Green Forest Brazilian Restaurant on Rodi Road in Penn Hills, told KDKA that the financial pain of the pandemic left them with two choices: bankruptcy or permanent closure.
“Father’s Day at the end, I told everybody that would be our last day. And then we shut our doors for good on June 21,” said Flavia.
The owners of 15 years thought closing would help. But between breaking their five-year lease and vendor fees, they are now more than $130,000 in debt.
The total does not include federal Paycheck Protection Program loans and other closing expenses.
The husband and wife are now selling their house, car, liquor license and everything inside the restaurant to limp through the crippling economic collapse.
“I could not stay no more, not one more week, not one more month,” said Flavia.
The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association told KDKA that closing costs are an issue plaguing many business owners right now.
“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘I’m going to close my business,’” said PRLA President and CEO John Longstreet.
The PRLA said businesses are now realizing the true cost of closing, and that even bankruptcy isn’t patching the hole in people’s budgets.
“Hopefully, a restaurant would have it set up where it’s structured in a corporation where they could get protection. But many have personal guarantees on the loans,” said Longstreet.
During their darkest times, the Naccaratos still have hope they may be serving food again.
“We can restart from the bottom,” said Flavia.
If you need a financial lifeline, the PRLA recommends business owners seek grants instead of loans.
Small businesses could receive up to $50,000 in a new wave of CARES Act funding expected to hit next month.