SBA Loan Helps Restaurant Hungry For Help | Community


WAGNER – Just as Boom’s Restaurant was preparing for its spring burst, owners Scott and Julie Alderink saw their business collapse.

The reverse could be summed up in one word: coronavirus.

“At first it was a gradual decline,” said Scott. “When that really hit, we’d probably lost about 40% sales.”

The pandemic struck in March and accelerated in April, when the Alderinks ’restaurant usually saw a surge in business due to warmer weather and nearby recovery on the Missouri River.

But not this year when both the virus outbreak and recession occurred. Charles Mix County, where Wagner is based, recorded some of the first COVID-19 cases in South Dakota and continues to receive cases.

The Alderinks have owned and run the business for over 30 years, supporting her and her four children. However, they were now working to keep the restaurant afloat.

“We typically employ 12-16 people, mostly part-time,” said Scott. “We decided to close the dining room and strictly go to take-out or our drive-up window. We have reduced the 1-2 people who worked in the dining room and halved the hours of our full-time employees. “

The Alderinks still needed a quick fix and were given a financial lifeline.

Scott learned of a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan aimed at operations suffering significant economic losses due to COVID-19.

“I heard about the loan and the program was offered by the Commercial State Bank in Wagner,” said Scott. “Our banker Mike Frei encouraged me to do so. They had the loan and application documents and were very proactive in supporting an independent company like ours. “

Alderink learned that the program had helped other regional companies. The credit process went smoothly for him, he added.

“It really helped us to go through our local bank where they knew our business,” he said. “The bank did a lot of the paperwork and it was very easy. We applied for and got the loan. It really helped us. “

The SBA determines the loan amount using a formula that uses the company’s average monthly payroll. Boom qualified for a one-time loan of $ 25,000. The program requires funds to be released within a specified period of time and provides a method of lending.

With the ability to lend, some people view SBA aid as a welfare program, Scott said. However, he saw it as an option in extraordinary times.

“Without her my checking account would have been overdrawn by $ 23,000,” he said. “I should have borrowed the money from the bank or closed it. I needed the help. “

The Alderinks also saw the loan as a way to save jobs that were being reduced or cut.

“We are using SBA for the first time and have turned (our employees) on again. At least I can keep them busy and do something, ”said Scott. “My wife and I work 12-14 hours a day. I don’t think we could have stayed open any longer.

“I’m very grateful – it will encourage people, give them a little hope. We’re also pastors in a local church here, so it’s difficult to do all of that. “

The situation has improved, but business remains challenging. A major decision that remained was to reopen the dining room.

“We considered opening the dining room twice, but we were hesitant given the recent (COVID-19) spikes in our region. Our dining room is still closed, ”said Scott.

“We’re very concerned that Julie and I will get infected (with the virus). If any of us fell ill with COVID, we would have to shut down completely. We think it is safer to keep the dining room closed. “

In a Facebook post earlier this year, Julie Alderink spoke about these concerns. The couple took the advice of their daughters – an emergency doctor in Australia and the other nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“They are also concerned (as are we) that there is no distinction between healthy / immunocompromised people for the course of this disease,” wrote Julie. “Out of respect for them and the fact that Scott and I are both now part of the older population (who are more prone to the disease), we decided to go along with their wishes.”

Even if the dining room reopens, business will not continue as usual, Julie said.

“When we reopen we can only let 10-15 customers into (the dining room) at a time, and we’re not entirely sure how to deal with that right now,” she said. “So we added more outdoor seating.”

Julie encouraged customers to use the right of way, delivery, and takeaway order. The restaurant also offers curb pickup.

Customers have adapted to the new realities, said Scott.

“We used to get 30% of our sales to go and 70% for dinner. But things have turned completely around now that we’re seeing a lot more business, ”he said.

“People get used to the to-go orders, but we still get a lot of questions about the dining room. Hopefully we can bring the dining room back by the end of summer. “

Boom has seen other changes. To capture the breakfast crowd, the restaurant now opens at 6 a.m. Additionally, the restaurant usually got most of its business around lunchtime but is now experiencing a more steady flow throughout the day.

The Alderinks also see people getting out more.

“I think … people are fed up with being locked up (during the pandemic),” Scott said. “It’s interesting to see families come through the passage and get ice, one of those normal summer activities. We see a lot of such things. “

Boom’s has also seen the same senior customers use the driveway on a regular basis. Scott believes these visits are about meeting up with another person and placing an order – food for the soul and the body.

In addition to the restaurant, Scott serves as a pastor in a non-denominational ministry called the Lighthouse. He sees a parallel between Boom’s and his church, both of which have adjusted to the pandemic.

“I think God is shaking businesses and our lives,” said Scott. “He doesn’t like it when people feel too comfortable and he challenges us.”

In the end, these challenges will make things stronger, he said.

“I am the eternal optimist,” he added.

Follow @RDockendorf on Twitter.

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