French laundry received more than $ 2.4 million in PPP loans

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Frontage of the French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, Napa Valley, Calif., Operated by chef Thomas Keller and known to be one of the few restaurants in the United States to win three Michelin stars, November 26, 2016. (Photo via Smith Colle

The French Laundry, the posh Napa County restaurant where Governor Gavin Newsom was spotted dining with friends and lobbyists a month ago, has received more than $ 2.4 million in loans funded by the taxpayers under the Paycheck Protection Program, according to government documents.

The Michelin-starred restaurant in Yountville received two loans, both approved on April 30, according to the latest data from the Small Business Administration (SBA). A loan, worth more than $ 2.24 million, was used to keep 163 employees on the payroll. The second, for $ 194,657, was used to retain five employees.

The restaurant did not respond to a FOX Business request for comment.

Congress created the $ 670 billion bailout fund with the passage of the CARE law in March to stem the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic and to help small businesses avoid mass layoffs. The federal government will cancel the loans if at least 60% of the money is used to maintain the payroll.

The French Laundry – which was opened by celebrity chef Thomas Keller in 1994 with the help of 60 investors – offers an exclusive outdoor dining experience starting at $ 450 per person, and features a white truffle dinner and caviar for $ 1,200 per person, according to online reservation benefits.

The restaurant was also the scene of a recent controversy after photos were posted of Newsom, the Democratic Governor of California, attending a birthday party and sitting at a 12-person round table in a dining room closed on three sides. and covered. Newsom, who maintained the event was outside, nonetheless drew criticism for apparently violating its own strict coronavirus lockdown rules.

According to local reports, the money received by French Laundry was 17 times that of the average Bay Area restaurant, prompting a backlash from other business owners.

At first, the program was heavily criticized for giving aid to publicly traded companies that had other ways of relieving themselves – even as small businesses languished. The SBA and the Treasury Department, which jointly administered the program, worked to close the loopholes that allowed multi-million dollar companies to tap the fund, including committing to audit any loan from a value greater than $ 2 million.

Over the course of about four months, the PPP distributed about $ 525 billion in forgivable loans to 5.2 million businesses, saving about 50 million jobs, according to the SBA. The program was closed to new applicants at the end of July, although around $ 38 billion remains in the fund.

Lawmakers have been trying to negotiate a new round of emergency aid for months, to no avail. But congressional leaders appeared close to a $ 900 billion relief deal on Wednesday that would include additional funding for the PPP, as well as increased unemployment benefits and funding for vaccine distribution, education and Healthcare.

“We have made significant progress in developing a targeted relief plan,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said Wednesday.

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