The way to save small businesses is to keep them open: CKE Restaurants former CEO

CKE Restaurants former CEO: We can save businesses, but we need to find a way to keep them open

CKE Restaurants former CEO Andrew Puzder argues that the best stimulus for businesses is customers and the Paycheck Protection Program can’t save them all.

CKE Restaurants former CEO Andrew Puzder argued on Tuesday that the best stimulus for small businesses is customers and that the Paycheck Protection Program cannot save them all.

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“We can save these businesses, but we need to find a way to let them stay open,” Puzder said.

The author of “The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left's Plot to Stop It” made the comments on “Mornings with Maria,” two days after President Trump signed a $900 billion COVID-19 legislative package that includes nearly $300 billion in additional Paycheck Protection Program funds.

This PPP extension is a lifeline for struggling small businesses that are dealing with another surge of coronavirus cases and the related restrictions imposed by state and local governments in an effort to slow the spread.

The PPP was a centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion-coronavirus relief bill approved by Congress in March and distributed millions of forgivable loans worth more than $500 billion. It is credited with saving millions of jobs for those employed by small businesses, according to data provided by the Small Business Administration.

When asked if there is enough time for the forgivable loans provided by the PPP to be processed to save struggling small restaurants, Puzder said, “for some of them there is.”

“The Paycheck Protection Program did save small businesses when it was initially put in place,” he noted. “This is the eighth or ninth month now that we have been going through the pandemic. It’s now gotten worse and people are shutting down.”

Effective Aug. 31, nearly 164,000 U.S. businesses have closed since March, according to Yelp’s Local Economic Impact Report released in September.

The National Restaurant Association estimates more than 110,000 restaurants have permanently shut down and, earlier this month, in a letter to congressional leaders demanding a relief package, warned that more than 500,000 restaurants were at risk of closing amid the "economic free fall" caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The government can’t possibly come up with enough money to keep all of these small businesses in business,” Puzder said.

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“The best stimulus for a business is customers, and if we don’t let these places open up soon, the Paycheck Protection Program isn’t going to matter, government checks aren’t going to matter, we’re going to lose a lot of small businesses, the contributions that these entrepreneurs make to their communities, the jobs they create for their employees, those are all going to go away and that’s a good thing to keep in mind as we get near the end of this pandemic.”

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that indoor dining was going to be shut down again in New York City starting Dec. 14, citing an increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, even as the state released contact-tracing data that showed bars and restaurants accounted for just 1.43% of COVID-19 cases in the three months ending in November.

“These small restaurants, they need to open up. They need to open up with protections in place so people’s health is protected, but they need to open up, because if they don’t, we’re going to see these restaurants go away,” Puzder warned on Tuesday, citing the data from The National Restaurant Association regarding restaurant closures during the pandemic.

“And these are the small mom-and-pop places; they’re the kind of restaurants you go to in New York, your steak, or Italian restaurants, or your Chinese restaurant. It’s not the national chains,” he added.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MCDMCDONALD’S CORP.212.59-1.43-0.67%
WENTHE WENDY’S COMPANY22.16-0.46-2.01%
PZZAPAPA JOHNS INTL85.29-3.91-4.38%
DPZDOMINO’S PIZZA INC.382.52-17.70-4.42%
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“McDonald's, for example, had positive sales in the third quarter, so did Wendy’s, so did Papa John’s and Domino’s,” Puzder continued. “These national chains are doing fine.”

In California, starting Dec. 6, much of Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley have been placed under a sweeping new lockdown in an urgent attempt to slow the rapid rise of coronavirus cases.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the new measures, which include strict closures for businesses, including bars and hair salons, will remain in place for at least three weeks.

“In states like New York and California, these states that are run by Democrat governors, they seem to assume that the tax revenue is always going to be there no matter what they do, no matter how high they raise the rates, no matter how difficult they make it for businesses to operate and they’re now finding out in the pandemic that the tax revenue is not always going to be there,” Puzder said.

He stressed that “any business that depends upon foot traffic to survive is being hurt by these lockdowns.”

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Puzder said he got a call from a California restaurant owner who was “in tears because she was going to let all her employees go, she was going to have to shut down” even though her restaurant, Trattoria Mollie, is located in Santa Barbara where someone can usually “eat outside every day of the year.”

He noted that she installed plastic shields and has “taken all the precautions that the state required.”

“Newsom shutting down outdoor dining, her restaurant is going to have to close and it’s a tragedy for these small business owners,” Puzder said.

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Fox Business’ Evie Fordham, Adam Shaw and Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.

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