AURORA, Colorado — When Michael and Estefania Dries bought the Colorado Catering Company last year, they knew they would have to work hard to achieve their dream, but had no idea they would have to fight a pandemic.
“If we played it was definitely the worst time ever,” said Michael. “We’ve hit double zeros on this.”
The couple had planned 30 events in their first month, but those events were canceled due to the novel coronavirus.
They must have cut staff.
“I was a business owner, but I never had to let 30 people go. It was heartbreaking,” he said.
The Dries applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan and were told they hadn’t owned the business for long enough.
Eventually the rules changed, so they reapplied and received a loan of $ 150,000.
“It allowed us to do a lot of things that we couldn’t do without income,” said Michael. “We need to bring back staff.”
He said they took “lemons and made lemonade.”
Because catering was slow, the staff, eager to work, thoroughly cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the vans, redone the menus and detailed the coolers.
“Anything we could do to keep people busy, we did,” he said.
He added that they even had the roof repaired and the gutters cleaned.
Estefania said the loan did not cover the entire payroll.
She said they still struggled to pay the rent as well as the phone, Xcel Energy and insurance bills.
Estefania said the majority of their activities are business related, like packed lunches for business meetings, but with many businessmen working remotely, that side of their business has dried up, so they focused on the social side, like wedding events.
Michael said they had had a good wedding season, but it only lasted about two months. Then, as COVID-19 cases started to rise again and restrictions were increased, cases fell again.
Eight months after making the purchase, they’re still afloat, with plans for a big wedding season in 2021.
Like many other small business owners, the Dries are chomping at the bit hoping to secure another P3 loan.
Some banks expect to start accepting applications on Monday.
“I have already emailed the bank several times asking when it will be open,” Estefania said.
She said she was counting on the money to bring back at least five staff. She said hiring a few more people would bring much-needed relief to the manager and the two existing staff, who did all the work.
“Our general manager makes the deliveries, our salesperson makes the deliveries, and getting help in the kitchen will be nice,” she said.
Michael said the loan would be a lifeline.
“It really will be,” he said. “This will be the most important thing for us.… We should earn 15 times what we earn each month in income, and we don’t. So paying the two employees that we have is very difficult. not been paid for six months. It’s hard to get by, but this P3 allows us to put me on the payroll and my staff to come back. “
Michael said the loan would allow them to put money into things that haven’t been able to attend to.
“There is still wear and tear on things,” he said. “We still have minimum deliveries. The trucks always break down. We had to fix our water heater. I have no income for that.”
Estefania said Colorado Catering Company was their dream and failure was not an option.
“This is our world,” she said. “We put everything here. There is no room for failure.”