The executives also shared their frustrations with the PPP, arguing that many restaurants had been left out unfairly because the program “came with no user manual and it was extremely confusing.”
It didn’t ‘seem right to us’
Garutti further explained to CNN’s Poppy Harlow that the program was a “great opportunity” for restaurants to receive funding, but the company changed its mind and returned the loan after hearing small business owners’ stories about not getting access to it.
“That doesn’t seem right to us,” he said on CNN Newsroom. “As we watched this opportunity play out over the weeks, it was very clear that the program was underfunded and wasn’t set up for everyone to win.”
Shake Shack has around $100 million in cash on hand. Harlow asked him why they applied for it in the first place and Garutti said it was aimed at “taking care” of its workforce and maintain liquidity. “Our team members have equal value to any other team member in the world,” he said.
“By returning our $10 million, that $10 million can go back into the pot and go to the people that deserve it. We hope it can go inspire the next round,” he said.
Calls to increase funding
Garutti and Meyer are now calling on the SBA to increase funding to the program. They also want the US agency to assign a local bank to work with each applicant and ease the process, and to make the forgiveness policy more flexible.
Union Square Hospitality Group, another food and beverage business that is run independently by Meyer, has received “some” of the loans it’s applied for, the executives said. They said all of those restaurants closed last month and the company was forced to lay off more than 2,000 workers. They did not specify whether that company would be returning any funds as well.
A deal for additional PPP funding, meanwhile, could be announced soon.
“I think we are getting close to a deal. It could happen. It could happen,” Trump said. “A lot of good work has been going on and we could have an answer tomorrow and we are going to see what exactly does take place.”
— CNN’s Jordan Valinsky, Veronica Stracqualursi, Manu Raju and Alicia Wallace contributed to this report.