The French Laundry reportedly received over $2.4 million in PPP funds

The French Laundry reportedly received more than $2.4 million through the Paycheck Protection Program while smaller, less-renowned restaurants struggled to get approval at all from the federal program designed to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, an ABC7 News analysis showed.

Eater reported in July that the French Laundry received between $2 million and $5 million in PPP money based on a list made public by the Small Business Administration. The list, however, did not give exact loan amounts.

The Michelin-star restaurant in Yountville received two loans, both approved on April 30, according to ABC7, which combed through data provided by the Small Business Administration. According to the SBA, the first loan was for more than $2.2 million to retain 163 employees, while the second loan was for $194,656 to keep five employees. The CARES Act of 2020 established the PPP to provide “small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.”

The more than $2.4 million given to the French Laundry was 17 times more than what the average Bay Area restaurant received from the PPP, according to ABC7.

This is just the latest example of how the bulk of PPP funds have gone to larger companies, while smaller mom-and-pop establishments struggled to get any federal assistance at all.

According to a Washington Post analysis of SBA data, national chains have received tens of millions of dollars more from the Paycheck Protection Program than had been previously known. For example, more than 1,000 Sonic Drive-In restaurants received PPP funds, accumulating more than $100 million in all.

This isn’t the first time the French Laundry has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons.

Last month, Califorrnia Gov. Gavin Newsom was caught dining there for a birthday party in violation of the state’s guidelines, and just one day later, San Francisco Mayor London Breed did the same.

Although Breed technically didn’t violate the state’s or city’s coronavirus guidelines, she admitted that attending a birthday party at the French Laundry broke “the spirit” of the rules.

SFGATE writers Dianne deGuzman and Eric Ting, and the Washington Post contributed to this report.

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