Kathy Saldana, owner of the A Street Tavern in Vale and Quins Bar in Ontario, said she is worried her businesses will continue to struggle without help from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

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VALE – Kathy Saldana said she will always remember her emotion last week when she learned the federal Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money.

“I felt like someone throat punched me,” said Saldana.

The $349 billion program – geared to bring relief to small businesses across the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 virus outbreak - went dry after processing 1.7 million loans.

Small business owners across the nation like Saldana are now on hold for relief as lawmakers debate the future of the program.

The Trump administration and Congress reportedly reached a deal to pump another $300 billion into the program this week.

The program was part of an unprecedented $2 trillion COVID-19 virus salvage effort.

Saldana said the money ran out before her loan could be processed.

More than a month ago Saldana closed the doors on her businesses – A Street Tavern in Vale and Quins Bar in Ontario – to comply with state orders restricting sit-down service.

She said she expected to be open again in a few weeks

“I thought we’d be open in a reasonable amount of time,” said Saldana.

Now the future of her two businesses is uncertain.

Saldana said she counted on the federal Paycheck Protection Program to be a big help but now there is no money in its coffers, she said she is scared.

“And I’m not one that scares easily,” she said.

She wants to get her 10 employees back to work.

She wants to look out from behind the bar and greet customers.

Most of all, she wants to save her businesses that represent half a lifetime of hopes, dreams and sweat equity.

“I have done everything they’ve told me to do. They said, ‘don’t lose hope’ but I feel like I’ve lost all hope,” said Saldana.

The Paycheck Protection Program fund, she said, was a bright light in an otherwise dismal business climate.

“I needed that money in order to survive,” said Saldana.

The sudden shut down last month was especially hard, said Saldana, because her two businesses were thriving.

“I was doing the best I’ve ever done,” said Saldana.

Saldana said she doesn’t believe her two businesses will ever reach the level of profit achieved before the shutdown.

“You never gain what you lost. You just gain knowledge of what you lost,” said Saldana.

She said another worry is some of her employees haven’t been able to get their unemployment claims processed.

“When we closed I told my employees to not worry, they were going to get their unemployment,” said Saldana.

Saldana said she will reopen with limited, curbside service at A Street Tavern on Monday, May 4.

She will bring several employees back to work.

Her business will offer limited food – such as finger steaks and fries - and beer pickup and be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

She has no illusions, she said, about the future.

“We really weren’t prepared for this. None of us. Now we are all just trying to survive now,” said Saldana.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Have a news tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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