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Black-owned Norfolk restaurant hopeful after small business PPP loans open up

The applications for small businesses last until March 9.

NORFOLK, Va. — It is the smallest of small businesses. 

Ericka Crowder, chef and owner of Cutta's Kitchen, working alongside Desiree Crowder, her mother. 

At the restaurant on 35th Street in Norfolk, they are the only two employees.

“Time-consuming, definitely time-consuming. I’m always working," Ericka told 13News Now Thursday.

The space is a small, cozy one. Its close-knit quarters are part of the restaurant's charm, and what Ericka loves about it.

“Wanted something smaller just so I have control over every aspect of it. I can see what’s going on out here over me cooking," she said. 

It is the small and intimate setting that gives the restaurant its personal charm, but also what amplifies the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We were just getting to the point where we were getting our feet wet, ready to take off. But it definitely slowed us down, it closed us down for two months.”

When the pandemic first hit, Ericka said the cancellation of the MEAC basketball tournament and the Something in the Water festival greatly impacted their business. However, relief is on the way for businesses like Cutta's Kitchen, and many more across the country.

Starting February 24, the U.S. Small Business Administration begins its application process for Paycheck Protection Program loans, specifically aimed at businesses with 20 employees or less. 

Ericka Crowder, who did not take out PPP loans in 2020, is going to be applying for this round of funding. 

“They’re really trying to give it to the smaller businesses over the bigger ones, which I think is really cool.”

Ericka said one of the reasons they didn't pursue them previously was she wasn't sure whether the restaurant would qualify in the first place, with just two employees. 

The weeks-long window, lasting until March 9, gives America's smallest businesses the chances for PPP loans without the worry of larger companies taking priority. 

“It'll definitely relieve some pressure, give me some space to try some new things. Right now, we have to stick with what we know because we’ve got bills to pay," Ericka said.

More information on the application process can be found at the U.S. Small Business Administration's website.