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Coronavirus Update: New Jersey Restaurant Owner Taps Home Equity To Help Employees

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The COVID-19 outbreak is hitting small businesses hard.

CBS2's Cory James spoke with one restaurant owner who is going above and beyond to help his employees.

"I just couldn't toss them on the street. I wouldn't want to toss them on the street," Mark Jakuboski told James. "We're family."

For over 30 years, Jakuboski has owned Old Man Rafferty's in New Brunswick and Hillsborough, New Jersey. When the coronavirus outbreak impacted his businesses, he started coming up with a game plan for his 120 employees.

"If I could just go for everything I could from New Jersey EDA, the fund - the EDL loan, the IDL loan, the PPL loan - and work every angle that I could, I knew that perhaps I could pull this thing off."


After being forced to furlough his team, Jakuboski decided to pull equity from his home to pay health insurance for his 18 full time workers.

"Business is a gamble. So if I got the PPO, then I could basically pay off the money I borrowed. But if I didn't, I'm out on the street for taking care of my employees. It's a no brainer," he said.

The decision brought peace to his general manager, Matt Omr. He's among the more than 215,000 workers in the state getting unemployment.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Omr said in addition to health insurance security, Jakuboski gave away food to his entire staff.

"It's hard to put into words what that means to people, but that's a tremendous gift to people to know that they have food sitting in a restaurant that's available to them," said Omr.

Paying it forward just might be working out for the restaurant owner.

"The big news was today – I've been working with my small bank with this PPP loan, and I was informed this morning that it was approved, which means that I can put everybody back on the payroll," he told James.

It's a two-month long relief for a man who seems to always put his employees first.

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