Crisis Averted: Restaurant Owner Save 74 Jobs During COVID-19 Disaster


By Toni Carter:

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the global food industry as governments shut down restaurants and foodservice businesses to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Dining in restaurants essentially stopped overnight and social distancing requirements and safety regulations took full effect. While several businesses pivot and adapt to the new realities, many others continue to suffer from the unprecedented fallout. Many business owners experienced severe decline in sales, significant staff reduction and even permanent closures.

According to National Restaurant Association, more than 3 million restaurant jobs and $25 billion in industry sales were lost during the first 22 days of March 2020 because of the virus. Charles Felts, owner of the Hidden Lake Restaurant Group, Inc, also suffered a tremendous downturn in revenue resulting from pandemic. Felts owns and operates two restaurants: Opus Ocean Grille and Opus Bistro & Steakhouse.

Economic Relief

Seeking disaster relief, Felts contacted San Jacinto College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in April 2020 for emergency assistance and resources.

“Charles’s restaurants were heavily impacted by the pandemic, so he reached out for assistance in obtaining financial relief,” said SBDC Director and Business Advisor Herb Hildebrand. “I advised and educated him on the various SBA, CARES Act programs and helped him navigate and apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).”

With the help of the SBDC, Felts quickly received economic relief. He received the PPP loan, as well as the EIDL in May 2020. “The financial relief I received not only helped maintain business operations, but also helped me retain and save 74 jobs,” said Felts. “I thank the SBDC for their swift assistance, dedication, time and valuable resources and connections.”

Repeat Client

Felts continues his relationship with the SBDC and views the advisors and network as a trusted resource. In May 2021, he contacted Hildebrand for preparation and assistance for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) application. As a result, Felts’ Hidden Lake Restaurant Group, Inc. was awarded the RRF funds needed to maintain operations at both restaurants.

Now a long-term client, Felts encourages other business owners to utilize SBDC as a first-choice resource. “The SBDC is here to help, and I’m truly thankful to have this relationship.”

For one-on-one, no-cost, confidential business advising, contact us today. Our SBDC advisors are here to help you start, grow or expand your small business.