The pandemic has ruined their businesses. This is how they do it now

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CNN Business has featured a number of them over the past year and a half and checked out with a few how they are doing today.

GYM Sportsbar owner Rick Schmutzler was doing pretty well before the pandemic, running three successful and profitable gay sports bars in New York City, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles.

But today he has just two locations and has over $ 600,000 in debt on retroactive rent, a Small Business Administration economic disaster loan, and a New York small business loan.

And all this after securing two Paycheck Protection Program loans for each location – which he described as “life savers” and expects him to be fully forgiven.

“The past 16 months have been a lot.… As the founder of the company, I’m the chief cheerleader. So as I tried to keep a really positive face in public, there were a few times I wasn’t sure three of the companies would survive. Or any of them, ”Schmutzler said.

He ended up shutting down his Los Angeles bar because he couldn’t come to a rental deal with his landlord.

His Fort Lauderdale bar fared better, mainly because it had lower operating expenses and a kitchen that kept it open as a restaurant. More, Florida was one of the first states to ease pandemic restrictions. And that’s the only branch for which he got a grant from the Federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Its New York location, meanwhile, remained closed for all but two months between March 2020 and this spring, when it fully reopened. Under city rules last fall, customers who ordered a drink also had to order food. The bar does not have a formal kitchen, so to operate in October and November it started to offer three menu items – a hot dog, a large pretzel or fries with melted cheese. “It was very strange,” Schmutzler said.

It had to close the Gotham location again in the winter due to a spike in Covid cases in New York City. Its second P3 loan for this location arrived just as it was set to reopen this spring. “It allowed me to start breathing again,” Schmutzler said.

Despite everything he’s been through, he noted, “We have survived and are cautiously optimistic.”

He expects June 2021 to be his first profitable month since before the pandemic. Customers celebrating LGBTQ + Pride Month helped improve her finances and morale.

Now, however, Schmutzler is wondering how his New York bar, which has thrived as an after-work aperitif bar, will fare when fewer people visit the office five days a week. .

“No one knows what Midtown will look like,” he said. In the meantime, he added, business is picking up with the resumption of amateur sports leagues and New Yorkers keen to get out of their apartments after work.

Working remotely has been good for his business

Freelance sound engineer Stephen Morrison lost most of his business overnight as the pandemic forced the Atlanta music studios where he worked to close.

Morrison immediately asked for whatever kind of financial help he could get, ultimately securing food stamps, unemployment benefits, and a $ 5,000 economic disaster grant from the SBA.
It all helped, he said. But now that his unemployment benefits and food stamps have ceased – in part because of Georgia’s decision to end federally-subsidized unemployment benefits earlier than expected – he still struggles financially and must find a way to pay off the $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 loan. card debt he racked up trying to make ends meet last year.

“It’s definitely a concern. I don’t have an answer to say ‘I get it,’” Morrison said. “I always find a way to be okay. But on paper, it doesn’t look good.”

The good news is he has more work to do, mostly from his home studio. “I’m earning probably 60% of what I’m used to earning. It’s still not booming. But it’s going up really fast.”

It also gets new types of customers. He worked exclusively with professional musicians and podcasters. But now he’s also getting work from amateurs who used the time during the pandemic to try their hand at making music and creating podcasts.

“I’m very optimistic. It’s only a matter of time when we’ll be back where we were and even beyond,” Morrison said, noting that people are now more open to doing things from a distance. “As a service provider, it doesn’t hurt me. It helps me.”

His business is now stronger than ever

Massage Therapist Rebecca Jackoboice will expand her clientele when she and her family move to Ohio this summer.

Considering the high levels of stress people have been subjected to, it’s not entirely surprising that in-home clinical massage therapist Rebecca Jackoboice saw a resurgence in her business after shutting it down in the spring of 2020.

At the time, Chicago-based Jackoboice told CNN Business that she was trying to get federal help and was living off her personal savings in the meantime. Her husband, also a massage therapist who had lost his job at a chiropractic clinic that also closed, decided to take a low-paying job as a supervisor at a friend’s business.

Jackoboice said she finally got unemployment benefits, which she received for three months, as well as a small PPP loan, which she says will be canceled.

The two helped her maintain her creditworthiness and replenish the savings she had used up once she returned to work in June. “It wasn’t a complete replacement of my income with a long shot, but it certainly took the edge off the worry. And because 2020 was essentially ‘the year of not doing much’, the downside Forcing the budget has allowed us to replenish our savings account, ”she said.

Initially, she only returned to working with a few clients, while familiarizing herself with her new Covid policies, which required customers to wear masks and provide their own sheets and massage table at home.

Today, she said, she is still taking Covid precautions but “my business is back to normal, or maybe even better than normal.”

And it is likely to expand. Jackoboice is moving to his native Ohio this summer with her husband and their future 4-year-old son.

Ohio is more affordable than Chicago and their plan is to buy their first home and be close to the family. She also plans to build a new client base and return to Chicago each month to work with her existing clients. Her husband, who now earns more, will continue to do their current job remotely.

“We are fortunate that this is an option we have,” said Jackoboice. “Covid has changed a lot of people’s views on what’s important. We [decided we] want our own home. “


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