To say that 2020 has been tough would be an understatement. Across our State, our Country and the World the losses have been unimaginable. The loss of life, of community, of jobs and revenue are so overwhelming it is really hard to even wrap your mind around the immensity of it all. At a personal level, and our business is personal, we have faced challenges that have seemed insurmountable but we keep fighting every day for our livelihood and our employees.
We closed March 13th when so little was known about COVID-19. Maine had so few cases then and staying home was the only way we knew to keep people safe. We were lucky enough to receive a PPP loan in April that enabled us to re-open in May. I cried on the phone with the loan officer at Bath Savings Bank when she told me we had been loaned $81,300. That money got my employees off unemployment and gave us time to figure out how to safely open up.
We clearly can not do the same volume of business that we could pre-pandemic. We have had amazing customer and community support but it doesn’t change the fact that food costs are rising and it takes more labor to make less money.
I am holding out hope that The Restaurant Act will pass in Congress or that another round of PPP loans will be made available for those of us that used the funds correctly. I am constantly thinking about ways to up our volume of business in a landscape where so many are working from home. Our lunch business used to be filled with regulars from multiple companies in the Yarmouth area. Most of them still support us but can’t at the same level they used to.
Last month a new grant program opened up, an extension of the CARES Act it made funds available for small businesses suffering at a 25% loss in revenue this year. I gathered all the information that would be needed to apply, even found some original documents from 2005. On a Wednesday morning at 9 am I sat down in front of the computer and tried to log into the portal to apply. Like 1000’s of other Mainer’s I was sorely disappointed as the system crashed. I hurried off to work at 10 am and took orders and delivered food for 8 and a half hours. Thursday morning the system was still down. I left work at 2:30 to come home and fill out the paperwork only to discover it still wouldn’t work. I did a pile of dishes instead and went back to work.
Friday morning at 9 am the portal was finally fixed, I rushed through the process, cursing myself for not being more computer literate, shaking with anxiety as I checked each number and piece of information. I hit send at 10:30 and rushed to work. I spent the next week nervously checking my email, this grant could help get us through what is going to be a very hard winter. A Thursday snowstorm wiped out a day of revenue and then I found out we didn’t qualify for the grant. It was a blanket email. There is no appeal process.
We are still here and we are fighting. Meeting challenges every single day and adapting as fast as we can. Many people have questioned our reservation system. I can’t figure out a better way to keep everyone safe. Even doing curbside delivery is risky when so many people won’t even put on a mask when you deliver their food to their car. Now we have the additional issues of ice, snow and freezing cold.
We are not the only small business that is having a rough time. So many of us are hanging on by a thread. Help us by spending your money locally. Help us by staying safe and wearing a mask. Help us by supporting us on Social Media and telling your friends and family. Support the places you love so one day we can all see each other again.
Make parking lot reservations for curbside ordering Monday-Friday 11:30-7 at brucesburritos.setmore.com . Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For large orders you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we are happy to individually label and package food for the safest workplace lunches possible.