SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — As the weather gets warmer and more people get vaccinated, restaurants expect to see more business coming their way.
But the bills that piled up from last year still need to be paid.
Last month, the Small Business Administration extended the deadline to begin repaying their COVID-19 disaster loans until at least 2022.
For those at Larchmere Tavern in Shaker Heights, it’s a step in the right direction after more than a year of uncertainty.
“On a Monday through Thursday night, we’re lucky if we do 15 dinners,” owner Fred Vrabel said. “And it used to be 50. You can’t pay your rent and you can’t pay your bills on that kind of income.”
When the pandemic began, Vrabel said he made a commitment to keep his business open — a business his wife Laurie built nearly 30 years ago before passing away from cancer in 2016.
“At our peak, our sales were down 80%,” he said. “We’re still off a good 60-70%.”
Less than two weeks ago, the tavern launched a GoFundMe page to help make up some of the $120,000 in lost sales last year. The money raised would also help pay down the SBA loan they received. That loan initially needed to be repaid in June, before receiving an extension.
The GoFundMe has raised more than $15,000, as of April 26.
“We’re starting to see faces we haven’t seen in a year,” Vrabel said. “It’s hard to look forward to see what’s going to happen. If the SBA continues to work with us, hopefully we can maintain and be a viable restaurant in the future.”