Whatever whining I do- and I know I do a lot- I’m aware that I’m the sort of person who gives myself victim status more often than I should, and the pandemic hasn’t helped a lick. I’m prone to see myself as the victim of evil grease collectors, of cantankerous Yelp reviewers, and every fifth person who walks in the door here at Feast. But every now and again, something amazing happens. Today, one hundred fourteen days after applying for forgiveness of our PPP loan, after submitting and resubmitting on five different occasions, we were told our loan was forgiven, and my eyes welled up with tears.
Some of you will know what it feels like to have had your livelihood snatched from the precipice of extinction, and some of you will think it’s mawkish and melodramatic, but I’m guessing that any of you who’ve experienced it firsthand know exactly what I’m talking about. A couple of you have written to me to tell me about the tears you experienced when you were first vaccinated, and I know I’ve talked to a few of you business owners who’ve told me about that weight lifted from your shoulders when your loan was finally forgiven. And for those of you who don’t know, who haven’t experienced it firsthand (and good for you for not having to have experienced it firsthand,) it’s amazing. There are tiny tremors of relief. There’s a quiet filling of eyelids with relieved and grateful tears. I may sleep tonight for the first time in over a year and a half without waking up three or four times. Or I may wake up crying tears of gratitude.
Whatever happens, I’ll be grateful, waking up periodically or not, for what’s been done for me, and for all of us here, in part by the US government, with whom I must admit I’m not usually impressed, and in part- I dare say in greater part- by you, together and individually. I’m grateful for your notes, and for your shopping here for wine. I’m grateful for the articles you’ve sent, the contests you’ve entered us in, and the kindness you’ve showed to me and to your servers and cooks. I’m grateful for the meals you’ve bought for over 6,600 people, enabling us to provide meals for over 8,400 people so far throughout the pandemic, and for the kindness you’ve shown to us and to the people we’ve supported whether you agree or disagree with me about the issues I natter on about here in the emails.
You make me cry, all of you, in the best possible way, because every day, you restore my vitiated faith in humanity. So thank you. Thank you, SBA, for declaring my loan forgivable, and thank you, kind supporters of Feast, for making me remember that I’m not the victim I often think I am, but rather someone buoyed up by people who value community and kindness.
Yes, we’ll still be struggling for months, or maybe years. If you thought it was over because you’re suddenly able to come join us for dinner, I hate to tell you, but we and tens of thousands of other restaurants still have deep holes out of which to dig ourselves. A dining room full of guests on a Friday night, especially one at half capacity, is not enough to give us a leg up, Over 110,000 restaurants closed in 2020, and approximately 1,000,000 people have left the industry altogether, leaving us with new stresses to navigate, whether our loans have been forgiven or not. So here’s a little note to urge you, for the twentieth time or more, to think of a place you love, one that you’d bring friends to who were visiting town, or where you’d celebrate a special occasion, or where you just haven’t been in a while- by no means does it have to be Feast- and go and support them. I know what our dining room looks like, and nineteen months later, it still looks barren except for an hour or two twice a week, or three times if we’re lucky. And relative to lots of other restaurants, we are indeed lucky. Just please go out and support a business you care about today, if you’re not one of those businesses that’s hobbled enough that you can’t afford to go our and support one.
How can you support us here at Feast? Obviously by coming and having a bite to eat,
but also by attending our virtual wine tasting, which ought to be in part an in-person tasting by the end of the month (but note- it’s still virtual this week)
you can support our donation runs, and today will be devoted to organizing the next two or three of those so you’ll hear more about those soon. For now, though, it’s time for me to get on the phone and start working out where we’ll be bringing meals over the next several weeks.
Stay well and happy, and we’ll see you soon.