IDAHO — Local restaurant owners say the new economic federal COVID-19 relief bill is giving them hope. But as the pandemic rages on, they're not out of the woods yet.
After five years in downtown Boise, El Gallo Giro Mexican Restaurant closed its doors on Dec. 23.
"Unfortunately this year, obviously half the working population downtown has gone and no bar scene. There's not a whole lot of traffic down there," Lucio Prado, president of El Gallo Giro said. "With that being the issue, we came up to the end of our lease, and there was just no projection for us to say we are comfortable signing another five-year lease."
Prado said they continue to operate its Meridian and Garden City locations, and adds the first stimulus COVID-19 relief bill helped them avoid of shutting down.
"I didn't know if we were going to get the PPP loan, but when we did get it was an awesome experience," Prado said. "It was a huge help. Definitely was one of those things where we probably wouldn't have survived the pandemic without it."
Prado said it's still unclear how the latest $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill would benefit them, but they're grateful for the help.
"Any kind of relief they are willing to give us. Obviously, it's something we are looking into, and we are blessed to have people come back to us and work for us, and we want to take care of them," he said.
The new bill includes more than $284 billion to support small businesses and revive the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Dave Krick, board president of FARE Idaho (Food Agriculture Restaurant Beverage Establishment), a local non-profit, said the bill could be a sign of relief for many restaurants and bars.
"It is an imperfect bill, but it is necessary. We needed something," Krick said. "The loss of business would have escalated significantly have we not had the bill by the end of the year. I suspected in the restaurant arena we would have seen 50 to hundred thousand businesses close if we had to wait for this until the end of January or the end of February."
FARE Idaho posted a list on their Facebook of some independent restaurants that closed across the state.
"We now lost 120,000 restaurants across the country permanently, and that number was due to escalating over the winter. It will continue to grow. I think the new relief bill should slow that down a little bit," Krick said.
Prado said, he appreciates the support from the community.
"It seems like people are coming out just to make sure we stay open, and we couldn't be more grateful and thankful to this community and the things we have going forward. We still have goals and achievements we want to get to," Prado said.
To learn more about PPP eligibility, you can click here.