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Richmond restaurant owner get paycheck protection loan after issues with application

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 10:05 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Reggie Littleton was banking on getting a loan through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program but the process hit a snag when Wells Fargo denied his application. NBC12 On Your Side was able to help get things back on track.

This happened just in the nick of time because the Small Business Administration says its Paycheck Protection Program has run out of cash.

Family Secrets Restaurant and its soul food cuisine are well known in Greater Richmond and to celebrities from places far beyond RVA. Reggie’s celebrity patrons include P. Diddy, T.I., Trey Songz, Eric Benet, Lavell Crawford and Chris Brown.

The mystery was in a letter from Wells Fargo. The bank denied the business owner’s application for a paycheck protection loan through the Small Business Administration.

“They’re unable to verify my business. Business phone number and or ownership. Now, this is from Wells Fargo, and I’ve been banking with them since I’ve been in business and you can’t verify me?” Reggie said.

Reggie says the loan is for payroll to keep his employees working, and it would also enable him to purchase equipment to help customers feel safe inside when he reopens.

“I call it a C2 robot. You just sit it in the corner and it cleans the air. Cleans the pathogens out. It also makes the customers comfortable, knowing that I have some type of system in here to help prevent COVID transmission,” Reggie said.

The disappointing letter comes on top of seeing his successful operation go from a full-scale, popular restaurant and bar and catering business to just take out.

“We had a $90,000 loan. I got a line of credit with them. My checking account for my payroll goes through them for all these years that I’ve been in business. I was insulted,” Reggie said.

12 On Your Side called up Wells Fargo to ask the meaning of a letter that states a business can’t be verified when the owner has a 20-year business relationship with Wells Fargo. In addition, his first PPP loan was approved by Wells Fargo without any problems.

“It probably means somewhere in the process the information they’ve provided doesn’t match what’s on the other end,” Wells Fargo National Small Business Development Leader, Bob Marshall, said.

Turns out changes in the street address and ownership did trigger red flags. Reggie says his son has taken over most of the duties. Wells Fargo says someone applying for a second time can not assume the bank already has all of the information from the first application.

Right now, the SBA will continue to fund outstanding approved PPP applications from other lenders but won’t accept any new applicants.

In the meantime, Marshall says to know what you need to begin any loan process, understand which expenses are eligible, provide documentation, make sure your information matches and ask questions.

“They’re in a crunch period. They need the money, but sometimes they don’t know the exact expenses, and wires get crossed. There’s a form missing or the amount you put in online doesn’t match the amount you provided. That’s stressful because you needed the money yesterday,” Marshall said.

A delay doesn’t necessarily mean denial. Reggie stayed on top of it, calling and conversing with his bank, and 12 On Your Side did the same for him. He got the second loan.

Reggie emailed NBC12′s Diane Walker, writing “I got it, Diane! Run our story with these results. Thank you for your support.”

The SBA says the $284 billion PPP fund was exhausted almost a month before the program was set to end on May 31, but some applications will be accepted for businesses in underserved areas.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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