When August First Needed a PPP Loan, Mascoma Bank Made It Easy | Post paid | Business | Seven days
Phil Merrick likes to say he’s “retired” from August 1, the bakery, cafe and café on South Champlain Street in Burlington which he co-owns with his wife Jodi Whalen. And he almost watched the game on a hot October afternoon, sipping coffee and dissecting a cinnamon bun on one of the many outdoor tables that greeted customers safely during the coronavirus summer.
“Don’t give up on the cookie recipe!” Whalen joked as he walked past him in the restaurant, which was still filling lunch orders at 2 p.m. But Merrick was there to talk business, not to bake. In a plaid shirt and baseball cap, the 64-year-old Plattsburgh native relived the roller coaster ride every restaurant owner has experienced since the pandemic shut them down in mid-March.
As of April 1, all staff on August 1 were unemployed, including Merrick and Whalen.
Merrick hoped the federal paycheck protection program could be a lifeline for his business, which he and Whalen launched together in 2009 – a year after their marriage. He had also heard that the money available was limited and that potentially repayable loans would be distributed on a first come, first served basis.
In other words, he was motivated to know if August First would qualify. But “nobody knew anything,” he said of the many Burlington area banks he called, including his own.
Then he found mascome. Right on the website was the information he was looking for. “PPP loans. This is what it is. Here is who qualifies. Click here if you’d like to request it, ”Merrick recalled of the friendly prompts. When he called the Pine Street branch, manager Scott Anderson explained that August First would have to move to Mascoma in order to apply for the loan from the bank.
“It took a couple of days to change,” Merrick said, recalling that Anderson worked well beyond bankers hours to make the change.
Merrick’s request had arrived on April 3 at noon, the first day the government began accepting the requests. Ten days later, “I had SBA money in my bank account. I don’t know what anyone else did in town.
August First reopened in mid-June and its customers have returned the favor. In July, sales were 62% of last year. In August, they reached 80 percent. In September, “we beat last year’s numbers,” Merrick said with a mixture of pride and relief. It was a “pretty good summer”, he proclaimed, “I feel like we came out of the woods”. He credits the excellent staff, the PPP loan secured through Mascoma, state aid and the city’s willingness to increase outdoor seating for the spectacular comeback.
“It’s great,” Merrick said, noting that the company has saved enough to survive another potential two or three month shutdown. “When we got the P3 money, the first thing I did was write our landlord a check. We have enough money to make sure it will be paid off all winter.
This item has been ordered and paid for by Mascoma Bank. FDIC member. Equal housing lender.
* All credit applications are subject to the commercial underwriting standards set by Mascoma Bank.