Friday, June 25, 2021

Bobcat Bonnie's owner says government approved, then rescinded coronavirus aid

Posted By on Fri, Jun 25, 2021 at 11:17 AM

  • Bobcat Bonnie's / Facebook

The owner of Bobcat Bonnie's, a local restaurant chain with five locations in metro Detroit, says the U.S. Small Business Administration approved coronavirus relief funds — then said they would not be disbursed after all.

But that was after Matthew Buskard says he already starting spending money, hiring more staff, starting construction projects, and paying off bills.

"I need to take a moment to catch my breath after what has been probably the most devastating day in my career," Buskard wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday, when Buskard received an email saying the SBA's previously approved Restaurant Revitalization Fund was not coming through after all.

The problem is Buskard says he received emails in May telling him he was approved and the money was coming within seven business days.

After eight days, Buskard said he called the support number, which was busy. After 14 days, he started calling the support line daily. Eventually, he was told it was just a "glitch" and the funds were still on the way.

Then, on Wednesday, Buskard got the email — as well as at least several thousand other restaurant owners who were depending on the money, he says.

"To date our two Senators and two House Reps offices cannot get a hold of anyone of assistance at the SBA in regards to the RRF program," he writes. "Neither can our local SBA office, the Great Lakes Regional SBA Office or anyone attached to any of the other SBA programs. If we would have been able to actually reach someone at the SBA to look into why our grant monies weren't disbursed yet and get the SBA to actually look into it and fix or remedy the issue, we wouldn't be getting the email saying funding was not coming."

He adds, "We trusted you and followed your rules and waited only to be left with empty promises."

The news came just as Buskard was giving a paid week off to his staff "so everyone can catch their breath after how awful this year has been and all the hoops we've had to jump through."

Buskard says he and other restaurant owners are pursuing legal action, including a possible class-action suit.

"Why weren't our funds released?" he writes. "[Why] was there no way to get a hold of the SBA into figuring it out? Why did you tell us there was an error/glitch and you were working on fixing it and we were all good? We need answers and action and we need our government to care."

He adds, "In the end we trusted what you had told us and we positioned ourselves based on those promises and now you have actually put us in a much worse spot than we were beforehand."

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