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COVID Relief Bill Signed but Local Business Owners Say More Is Needed

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- From the people who can't pay their rents to the businesses that are about to shut their doors, everyone hopes this latest round of federal stimulus money will buy them some time.

San Francisco restaurant owner Ranjan Dey said financial help is long overdue. Traffic to his restaurant, New Delhi, has been so light that they're only open between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.

"We are not surviving." Dey said. "We are on the verge of closing down. We are the longest-running Indian restaurant in the city of San Francisco."

Dey has poured his heart into the legacy restaurant located near Union Square over the past 32 years.

"(I'm) taking a loan out on my house to pay my staff to stay open," Dey said.

Mario Ortiz's unemployment benefits ran out last month. He now has a part-time job but that's still not enough to pay the bills. He said a one-time payment of $600 from the feds will help.

"I could fix my brakes on my car, you know? Just little things here and there that need to be done. I keep pushing them off. I owe people money because I borrowed money," Ortiz said. "(Not having money) kind of ruined my Christmas -- I didn't have money to buy anybody anything."

The owner of Jake's Steaks in San Francisco's Mission District said he plans to apply for the new federal loan.

"Number one would be payroll, keeping everyone afloat ... And rent, maybe rent," said owner Wael Mufarreh Jr. He has one other location in the city's Marina neighborhood.

Eric Nielsen is a partner at two downtown San Jose restaurants. He used the last round of federal PPP loan money to pay his workers. Since the ban on outdoor dining, he's had to lay off most of his 95 employees. If he's able to get the new stimulus money, he plans to bring many of them back.

"We'll always bring more of our staff on than what technically the restaurant needs at the moment just so, in that way, we can keep things moving for them, hopefully keep them employed," Nielsen said.

While they were glad help is on the way, most people said lawmakers and the president should have got this done months ago.

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