ST. LOUIS — Like many restaurants, Saint Louis Brewery used Paycheck Protection Program money to keep staff on payroll, in order to make repairs and work on projects while dining rooms were closed to the public.
But the funds, from the federal CARES Act and administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, "also helped us explore new ways of doing business, like curbside pick-up and online ordering," Fran Caradonna, CEO of the brewery, maker of Schlafly Beer, told the Business Journal. The company has three pub-restaurants, in St. Charles, Maplewood and the city of St. Louis, and sought a loan of $1 million to $2 million through Bank of Washington, according to federal data, helping retain 241 jobs.
Restaurants led the way among St. Louis-area firms seeking PPP, according to a review of government data by sector. In all, nearly 6,000 companies in the St. Louis area received approval for PPP loans of $150,000 or more. More than 270 full-service restaurants sought the virus relief, including other big names such as Kaldi's Coffee, Pasta House and a McDonald's franchisee called P&P Restaurants, all seeking loans of $1 million to $2 million each.
Religious organizations were the second most-frequent participant, with 189 St. Louis-area groups represented. One that made headlines was Joyce Meyer Ministries, the Fenton nonprofit tied to the televangelist, which received approval for a $5 million to $10 million loan. Numerous Catholic organizations and schools also made the local list, the result of lobbying for an "unprecedented exemption" from federal rules, according to an Associated Press investigation.
Offices of physicians, who saw "non-essential" procedures and in-person visits banned, sought 150 loans locally. And contractors, shut out of people's homes, weren't far behind, with 143 making the list. Those included plumbers, and heating and air-conditioning specialists.
Some of the biggest law firms in the region, including Armstrong Teasdale and Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard PC, were approved for millions of dollars worth of loans. One hundred twenty-three appeared on the federal list.
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