Black Businesses Continue to Face Down the Pandemic – Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia 2021-09-21 11:49:22 –

(Virginia Ali, who opened the Benz Chili Bowl with her husband Ben in 1958, acknowledges the achievements of children and families by keeping the business open during the most difficult times of the pandemic. : Courtesy photo)

Washington – Virginia Ali is the owner Ben’s chili bowl, She and her husband Ben Ali, are an iconic restaurant that opened in Washington, DC in 1958. Ben Ali died in 2009. He was 82 years old.

Since then, the restaurant has become a very landmark and many celebrities, including the former president, have trekked through its doors. Barack Obama George W. Bush, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Serena Williams, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Durant, Steve Harvey, Kevin Hart, Mary J. Blige, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Anthony Bourdin..

The restaurant is woven into the structure of the city’s black community. It helped serve tens of thousands of protesters who came to Washington during the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and the 1963 March on Washington.

Benz is one of the few restaurants that opened after the curfew to provide food and shelter for those working to restore order after the 1968 Washington riots after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. bottom.

Still, Ali said COVID-19 It was the most difficult obstacle her business has ever facedBecause this was the first time her business had to close the door for a long time. She said it is normally open from 7am to 2am and on weekends until 4am.

(Oriel McKinney and her husband Brian opened a pizza franchise just a year before the pandemic. They expanded their products, diversified their operations and survived through social media. Photographers : Courtesy photo)

“We didn’t get the (Federal Paycheck Protection Program) loan first,” Ali said. “We needed to reduce staff, adjust time, and come up with other, more effective ways to reach the community. This virus was very scary, but our community They accepted us and helped us. ”

NS Paycheck protection program (PPP) is a federal loan issued at the start of a pandemic that provides SMEs with a direct incentive to maintain workers’ salaries. The first lottery PPP loan can be used to finance salary costs such as pandemic-related benefits, rent, utilities and worker protection.

Ali said he began receiving letters and donations from people throughout the community. She said the restaurant received enough money to deliver the lunch to Howard University Hospital and the other first respondents. She praised children with other professions for playing a full-time role in the restaurant to ensure that the family doors remained open.

Not all companies were lucky to receive support from the entire community and other popular publications.

Oriel McKinney, owner of 1000 Degrees Pizza in Winter Garden, Florida, said the pandemic was very difficult as she and her husband Brian had just purchased the place in August 2019.

McKinney’s business was forced to shut down by an executive order from the Governor of Florida.

She said that only a handful of staff could work when she was allowed to resume. McKinney and her husband had to change their service model because there were no customers who could eat indoors due to health sector restrictions. A key factor in their success was being part of Facebook’s curbside pickup group, McKinney said.

“Our marketing plan needed to move quickly,” she said. “We needed to adapt to curbside pickups and continue to expand our relationships with the community.”

McKinney said he called other owners to give and receive advice on how to run the business at uncertain times. She said she sells her products in her store in collaboration with local black companies such as Smile Ice Cream and Full Press Juicery. She said their social media pages keep the community up-to-date with the latest news, products and fundraising activities.

Her business helped the business a lot by feeding the National Basketball Association during the 2019-2020 playoffs and the championship in Walt Disney World’s isolated facility, The Bubble, she said. Told.

“We were one of the few companies allowed to offer in the bubble,” McKinney said. “It was a very thrilling experience, but it’s not yet clear that new Delta variants are on the rise.”

McKinney said it provided curbside pickup, takeaway and delivery to adjust time and make customers feel comfortable.

Terry Jackson, owner of Dallas-based Texas First Roofing and Construction, said he learned from the recession of 2008 and confirmed that every business he owns is essential. The Jackson business, which employs about 20 workers, puts roofs and fences on residential and commercial buildings.

“We didn’t have to shut it down completely, we had to save staff and money,” Jackson said. “I used to do both interior and exterior projects, but since the pandemic, I’ve been doing mainly exterior projects to keep staff and clients safe.”

Jackson knew the company number and said that well-structured things made his business prosperous. He was able to see accurate numbers that would be useful when narrowing down expenses.

What really helped the business, he said, was a huge storm that struck the state in February 2020 and stuck the Texans for weeks without electricity. At least 210 people were killed and the storm caused an estimated $ 200 billion in damage.

Jackson’s business was prosperous before the pandemic, but the work created by the storm damage was a tremendous boost.

“We are still repairing residential and commercial real estate today,” he said.

Ernest Strickland, president and chief executive officer of the Black Business Association of Memphis, said many small black businesses had a hard time finding consistent capital before the pandemic hit the country.

NSDue to lack of funds, Strickland said he started the business in survival mode, government quarantine closed the business, and fears of infection kept customers away.

H & R block A survey found that more than half of black-owned businesses experienced a revenue loss of at least 50% during a pandemic, compared to 37% of white-owned businesses.

Study by University of California, Santa Clara found Between February and April 2020, 41% of black-owned businesses across the country were closed, compared to 17% of white businesses.

“A common problem I’ve seen with most black companies that have failed was the lack of proper accounting and bookkeeping,” Strickland said. “The company couldn’t apply for a PPP loan because it didn’t take care of the book.”

In response to this issue, Strickland said his association would partner with local governments to provide grant programs to companies in need. He said the program was aimed at individual entrepreneurs such as hairdressers, hair beauty professionals and other small business owners.

“We helped collect and distribute over $ 1 million to the heavily affected local businesses,” he said.

Everett Burton, a nationally renowned certified QuickBooks consultant in Memphis, Tennessee, said he held QuickBook classes for businesses in different cities before changing virtually everything for a pandemic.

According to Burton, the company that failed or struggled with the pandemic did not track books and financial accounting, so the company turned to him for help.

Oh “Most companies couldn’t get a loan because they didn’t have the books,” he said. “The company wasn’t paying properly. You can’t pay people to cash the register. Then the company that received the PPP loan was about how they spent the money. It was not forgiven because there was no evidence. “

Companies were eligible for loan exemption within 8 to 24 weeks after payment of the loan.But the company had to show that proof Employee and compensation levels, loan revenues are spent on salary costs and other eligible expenses, and at least 60% of revenues are spent on salary costs.

Burton said the pandemic has helped people do business the right way.

“The wise people were more educated using the pandemic,” he said. “I tell people that you are in business, but you are not in business. There is a big difference.”

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