Coronado granted $ 1 million in emergency business loans in just two weeks
Before the pandemic closed restaurants and suspended Major League Baseball, Brant Sarber had a great idea.
The owner of a Mexican restaurant called Costa Azul had just moved to Coronado’s Ferry Landing and wanted to give Padres fans a pre-game deal that included food, drinks and tickets for a boat ride across the bay. .
“They would come over, have a few tacos, a beer or a margarita and hopped on the ferry before going to the game,” Sarber said.
Fast forward a few months and Costa Azul and Petco Park are empty. Pro baseball is on a hiatus, and the Mexican restaurant is limited to take out.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarber has had to adapt. He stopped earning an income, kept a small team, and moved his restaurant business to a take-out operation.
One of the first things he did was apply for the federal government’s business loan program. Almost two months later, he’s still waiting to see if he’s been approved.
But a recent bright spot has been the City of Coronado Business Loan Program, which has provided nearly $ 1 million in loans to more than 60 businesses in a matter of weeks.
“We went from a place where (city council) approved the bailout loan program on April 21 to a point where we issued $ 985,000 in loans in a two week period,” City Manager Blair said. King.
Coronado’s rescue loan program set aside $ 2 million from the general fund to help keep businesses afloat while awaiting federal and state aid. With interest-free loans of $ 15,000, the goal was not to save businesses, but to help them wait.
“One of the concerns we heard was that aid promised by other levels of government was taking too long,” King said. “We wanted to make the point that at the city level, we could be more nimble than the federal government or the state.”
The city approved the program on April 21, made applications available on April 24, and began distributing the checks on May 1.
Partnerships with the local chamber of commerce and Cal Private Bank were vital in getting the money out as quickly as possible.
“You didn’t hit a home run, you hit a grand slam,” Councilor Mike Donovan told staff at the May 5 board meeting.
How quickly Coronado managed to get money into people’s hands surprised many business owners, especially those who used to deal with slow government bureaucracy.
“I have to say the efficiency was pretty amazing,” said Rich Brady, owner of an upscale clothing store at the Hotel del Coronado.
“Everything usually takes forever,” he added. “It’s inefficient and the budget usually exceeds the budget.”
Like Sarber, Brady is still waiting to hear from the federal government aid program.
Brady was one of the first people to apply for the city’s program. He applied on April 24 and got his money a week later.
While that’s enough to pay some bills and some operating costs, Brady realizes it’s not enough to get him out of the woods.
With the hotel closed, there is no foot traffic. And since it sells high-end clothes that require tailoring, curbside pickup isn’t really an option.
He will have to wait for the reopening of the hotel and the resumption of tourism. For that, it will need federal stimulus funds.
Still, he’s grateful that the city has stepped up its efforts.
“They didn’t have to do it,” Brady said. “They could have easily said we can’t afford it, thank you and good luck.”
Back when the ferry landed, Sarber used the money to pay for the daily operational costs. He is happy to get the money, but he is aware of the additional debt he has had to incur.
“It was certainly good for the city and the House to do this,” he said. “What I found particularly nice was that they focused on small businesses.”
Customers keep asking when it will return to normal, but it is difficult to give them a clear answer as the messages from the government change every day.
First he heard he should limit capacity to 50 percent, then to 25 percent and no specific date has been given for when that will happen.
For now, he remains positive. The move to take out may have opened up a whole new kind of customer he wasn’t aware of before.
“It’s an opportunity for later,” he said. “I think there’s this group of people who prefer take-out, which is going to be interesting to see.”