Ruth’s Chris Steak House on Thursday became the latest of several chain restaurants to announce it will return a loan it received through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) intended for small businesses, NBC reported.
The restaurant chain received a $20 million loan through the PPP, a program included in the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill last month and managed by the Small Business Administration. The chain claimed eligibility for the aid by showing it has fewer than 500 employees at each of its more than 100 individual locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Shake Shack, which obtained a loan under a similar rationale, announced it would return the funds earlier this week.
Another restaurant chain that received PPP aid, Sweetgreen, also said it would return the $10 million loan Thursday.
"We learned that the money had run out and so many small businesses and friends in the industry who needed it most did not receive any funds,” Sweetgreen's founders said in a statement.
“If this crisis has taught us anything, it is that we are all in this together and we believe strongly that the restaurant community needs more support and resources to weather this storm," they said.
The funding returns come as news of the loans to major companies led to public backlash, and sparked a Change.org petition calling on Ruth's Chris Steak House in particular to return the PPP money.
In addition to Shake Shack, Sweetgreen and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Kura Sushi announced it will return its $5.98 million loan, which it received after closing its more than 400 U.S. locations in mid-March.
“This was a difficult decision because our employees are extremely important to us, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that our finances allow us to weather financial hardship for a longer period than independent restaurant owners,” President and CEO Jimmy Uba said in a statement Thursday.
“We hope that these funds will be shared equitably among deserving candidates,” he added.