- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The posh Napa Valley restaurant where California Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed sparked controversy for attending dinner parties amid statewide coronavirus restrictions reportedly received more than $2.4 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans.

According to a report by ABC7, based on newly-released data from the Small Business Administration, The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville where the average dinner starts at $450 per person received 17 times more than what the average Bay Area restaurant received.

The three Michelin-star restaurant owned by celebrity chef Thomas Keller received two loans April — one for more than $2.2 million to retain 163 employees and another for $194,656 to keep five employees, ABC7 reported.

Under the PPP, loans will be forgiven as long as employee and compensation levels are maintained and the funds are used to cover payroll costs, utilities, mortgage and rent for at least eight weeks after the loan is made.

The French Laundry did not respond to ABC7’s requests for comment.

The establishment is one of at least seven Bay Area restaurants with two or three Michelin stars that also received PPP loans, the news station reported.

“Out of all the approved loans in California, 91 percent of larger restaurants with 300 or more employees got their loan approved in April versus only 52 percent of smaller restaurants with 100 or fewer employees,” the station reported reported.

The French Laundry made headlines last month after Mr. Newsom was photographed breaking his own coronavirus orders by not wearing a mask and not socially distancing among several people outside his household during a birthday party that included California Medical Association officials.

Just one night later, Ms. Breed attended a birthday party of eight at the same restaurant, at a time when restaurants in her own city of San Francisco were ordered not to host groups larger than six unless part of the same household.

Three days after dining in a semi-indoor setting at The French Laundry, Ms. Breed banned indoor dining in San Francisco.

Now, amid a surge in coronavirus cases, the state has been placed under a regional stay-at-home order that bans all in-person dining.

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