At Waffle House HQ, Pence says business owners may receive PPP loan extensions

COVID-19 , Government Affairs ,

Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

At a roundtable discussion held at Waffle House headquarters in Norcross Friday, Vice President Mike Pence said small business owners could soon receive an extension to the eight-week window in which they are required to spend funds from Small Business Association Paycheck Protection Program Loans.

Pence responded to Word of Mouth Restaurants owner Michael Arnette, who said he was "nervous" that his PPP deadline is coming up in early June.

"We are looking at a possible Phase 4 [federal coronavirus recovery package] that would include a number of things," Pence said. "But even before that, we are working with members of Congress in both parties to extend paycheck protection for just the reasons that you've said. The President's made it a priority. We're working to do that in real time.

Waffle House chief executive officer Walt Ehmer, who is one of the executives tabbed for the White House's economic revival groups, hosted the discussion. Participants included Arnette; Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp; Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia; Joseph Hsiao, co-owner of H Restaurant Group; Kevin Slater, CEO of Slater Hospitality; and Nancy Goodrich, owner of Southern Bistro. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Reps. Doug Collins, Rick Allen and Buddy Carter were in attendance along with 40 to 50 Waffle House employees.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue was unable to attend because he was "under the weather," according to Pence.

A few more notes of interest from the discussion:

  • The participating restaurateurs relayed their experiences of reopening their dining rooms in recent weeks and expressed gratitude for the Paycheck Protection Program. The restaurateurs all said the loans were key to their businesses' survival.
  • Pence said the Small Business Association has to date doled out $14 billion in PPP loans to 131,000 Georgia small businesses.
  • Kemp said he is considering whether to relax the guideline that requires restaurant workers to wear gloves for dine-in service because there is "some argument" that "they might not be helpful." Masks, however, will be part of the guidelines for the foreseeable future for both health and perception reasons.