DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Dallas restaurant owner who received a PPP loan several days after a CBSDFW.com report about him in April, said he’s now eligible to have it forgiven.

“I’m fully eligible for full forgiveness of the loan. I’ve just submitted the paperwork, and I’m excited that it was put in place because it was very helpful. Without that, I would have been out of business,” said Russell Birk, owner of fast-casual restaurant Maya’s Modern Mediterranean.

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Maya’s Modern Mediterranean (Jack Fink – CBS 11)

Birk said Tuesday, Nov. 24, his restaurant has prevailed during the pandemic not only because of the PPP loan, but also because of a low-interest federal disaster loan that he received, and hard work.

“I’m surviving, wouldn’t use the term thriving by any stretch of the word yet but I think in some sense, surviving is a victory, and I’ll take it.”

Birk said the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program by the Small Business Administration) helped him keep the same number of employees and the same payroll.

While May, June and July were tough months, he said sales picked-up in August, September and October.

“People started feeling a little bit more safe about going out again. We did pretty well, and we’ve had a nice fall. But then after Halloween, we saw a sharp slow-down again.”

That’s because new coronavirus cases and related hospitalizations started climbing again.

As if 2020 hasn’t been stressful enough, Birk said back in July, he received a call at 5:00 a.m., telling him that a driver had just smashed into the front of his restaurant.

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Russell Birk (CBS 11 News)

He said the car came very close to hitting a support pole. “If they hit that corner with enough force, they’re taking down the whole side of the building here.”

That didn’t happen, and he said a friend of his who’s in the construction industry helped him clean-up all the glass, board-up the windows, and open on time that day.

But Birk said, “It was pretty darn stressful at a time when I don’t really need a whole lot more stress.”

What stresses him out the most though these days he said is the uncertainty of the business.

“If I’ve got a reasonable expectation of what my sales are going to be in a week, I can have the right staff, I can have the right amount of food prepared. Without that, it just becomes a very difficult proposition, throwing out food in a day that was probably my entire day’s profit.”

So he said he’s staying positive by expanding the varieties of hummus he serves, and he’s even come up with a new campaign, t-shirts and all, called “spread hummus, not hate.”

He said, “I’m going to survive. I’m going to make it. I’m going to thrive because I believe in what I’m doing.”


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