TAKOMA PARK, MD – Carolina McCandless, co-owner of mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant, Cielo Rojo, was devastated when informed that the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ran out of funds, leaving her without cash to make payroll.
The program, designed to help struggling small businesses and giant mega-corporate chains who donated to Donald Trump’s election campaign, ended up blowing through its $350 billion allotment within days of the program’s opening.
That’s when McCandless decided to think outside of the box.
“I grew exhausted from filling out countless small business forms and waiting on hold with banks for several hours to get nothing,” McCandless said. “So we re-branded as a huge corporation and the money just came pouring in the very next day. The process was so easy!”
Under its new name, Ruth’s Cielo Rojo Shack, Inc. (technically now with 56 locations across Takoma Park as each employee is preparing meals in their own kitchen), the mega chain restaurant was able to secure fifteen million dollars in PPP funding this week, even though they only applied for a modest $65,000 to cover their labor costs for the next three months.
“I assumed the check would come by mail,” said McCandless. “I was quite surprised when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrived with Secret Service agents, personally handed me six duffel bags of cash, and said he’d be back next week with more.”
Upon hearing news of McCandless’ success, other small business in Takoma Park also re-branded as large corporations. New names you might find around town include McSeoul Food, Georgie’s Great Clips, Mark’s KitchenAid, Papa Roscoe’s Pizza, and Johnson and Johnson and The Vine.