U.S. Senator Hickenlooper and U.S. Small Business Administrator Visit Greeley Restaurant



About a year ago, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Consuelo Serillo Ortega wondered if she could do it at her family’s Mexican restaurant in Greeley.

Since much of the world has closed down, money hasn’t flowed to either El Pueblito, the nearly 20-year-old restaurant on 10th Street, or elsewhere in the Ortega family in Loveland and Fort Collins.

“We were worried about the staff,” Serillo Ortega said Wednesday afternoon.

But with about $ 90,000 in loans spread across all three locations, El Pueblito appears to have survived a pandemic that appears to be under more control in the US than it has ever been since the early winter of 2020.

“It was difficult because while it seems that we did a good job with the pandemic, we had to share money with delivery (services),” said Serillo Ortega. “It was difficult to make enough money to keep everyone together.”

El Pueblito was among 1,587 restaurants, bars, breweries and vans in Colorado that received more than $ 309 million in new federal aid as of early June through the $ 28.6 billion restaurant recovery fund that was launched in early June. May.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created as part of the Trillion-dollar American Rescue Plan passed by Congress this spring.

Democrat Senator John Hickenlooper and Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Guzman visited three businesses in northern Colorado on Wednesday, including El Pueblito in Greeley.

“I think we have to accept that our entire economy functions almost like a small business,” Hickenlooper said. “He got to his feet again, but this is the worst time when we have to step back and pat ourselves on the back. This is when we need to redouble our efforts, get down to business and make sure we support these businesses. “

The senator added that small business support will go a long way in determining how well the country as a whole will cope with its recovery from the pandemic, and the SBA is playing a key role in that future.

Hickenlooper, the former brewery owner who was elected in November, sits on the US Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, which oversees the SBA.

Guzman was confirmed as head of the SBA in March. Her trip to Colorado on Wednesday was her first trip from Washington DC after she headed the SBA.

Guzman said the SBA’s personality during the pandemic was marked by flexibility in providing the greatest possible support to small businesses in need.

“Through all the aid programs, we have grown our portfolio from over $ 40 billion to a trillion dollars,” Guzman said. “I think at this time it is about being as flexible and adaptable as possible to the needs of our small business. And that’s what we’re going to do as we move forward. Just really support small businesses with the great programs we have. “

Guzman warned that while there are high hopes as more re-openings occur at this stage of the pandemic, it is important for small business owners to know what is available to them in order to help employees gain access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

On June 1, the Centers for Disease Control reported 9,400 new cases. On June 1, 2020, 11,000 new cases were reported, but the daily number of cases continued to rise steadily throughout the summer and fall.

The CDC has reported more than 200,000 new cases in the US on 17 different December dates.

According to information from the Hickenlooper office, restaurants can use the money to rebuild the restaurant to cover costs such as wages, rent, construction, utilities and maintenance. The grants are more flexible than the Payroll Protection Program, which was passed by Congress last year under the Coronavirus Relief, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Restaurants must use funds until March 2023.

At El Pueblito in Grills, the owners have also spent money on improving the restaurant, such as a renovated patio overlooking 10th Street.

Alvaro Ortega Jr., whose father, Alvaro Sr., was one of the founders of El Pueblito, said grants and other aid funds have helped the business a lot. Ortega Jr. said the family had a good visit with Hickenlooper and Guzman, and he found a senator “easy to talk to.”

Ortega Jr. added that the Grilli restaurant recently had “many new customers,” and customers prefer to eat to-go by a 2: 1 margin. Ortega Jr. said that performing customers currently account for about 20% of the business. up from about 40% a year ago.

“We survived,” he added.


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