LIHU‘E — Small Business Boost grants of $7,500 bring temporary relief to business owners all over Kaua‘i as they find ways to stay afloat through the pandemic.
The county established the Small Business Boost grant with $5 million of federal funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act grant. Participating credit unions manage the funds.
In the heart of Poipu, Da Crack, a quick-serve Mexican food eatery, can be seen, on any given day, serving up their famous burritos to a long line of visitors and residents.
Daniel Hurtado, owner of Da Crack, was relieved to recieve a grant.
“I believe I speak for 90% of the businesses that got this grant on Kaua‘i,” Hurtado said. “It will definitely help my business, and I am very grateful to be a recipient of the grant. But for the majority of businesses on Kaua‘i with employees and/or lease commercial locations, it will be spent very quickly.
“Some won’t even cover one month’s worth of basic utilities, like rent and electricity. I believe if tourism continues to be closed, both interisland and mainland travel, a lot of businesses won’t make it out of this pandemic without additional help from our local and state governments,” Hurtado continued.
Hurtado said he started his business back in 2009, and his eatery offers affordable, large-portion, Mexican food takeout.
“All our food is prepared fresh daily, with a health-conscious approach. Everything is made from scratch, in house, and we only use Hawaiian salt and natural seasonings,” Hurtado said.
With 18 employees on board, Hurtado struggled to keep his business open through the pandemic.
“Although my business was able to operate throughout this pandemic due to the nature of our business, we were still negatively affected in a major way,” Hurtado said. “Sales are down about 60% and are steadily declining as unemployment benefits start running out. “
For many business owners, the Small Business Boost grants will be spent quickly for rent, utilities or a source of income to pay the bills before they can reopen again.
Marie Foster, owner of Legacy Events, has been impacted by the pandemic harder than most. Her wedding business depends on social, outdoor gatherings which are limited to 25 people now, per the mayor’s rules.
“I am grateful there is support for the small-business owners on Kaua‘i,” Foster said. “We are going to use our grant money towards monthly fixed operating costs until weddings and events can resume on Kaua’i.”
Rodrigo Batista and Tami Batista, owners of Da Fazenda LLC, a food truck on the Northshore, were also impacted by COVID-19. They will be using their grant to pay their rent, marketing and updating their curb appeal in hopes to bring in more customers despite the COVID-19 impacts.
“With the close of the islands, our customer base significantly declined, drastically affecting our sales and hours of operation,” Tami Batista said. “As hard as these times are, we are so grateful for our island. They are the reason we are still in business, and for that we are forever grateful.”
According to Batista, Da Fazenda translates to ‘From the Farm’ in Portuguese. The name pays homage to Rodrigo’s great-grandfather’s farm, built-in 1924, in the interior of Brazil. The farm is still in the family today, and it is where they gather for good food and company.
“It has been amazing to meet new faces at the truck, gain new local customers, and get our community hooked on Brazilian food. It gives us so much pleasure to share our roots with this community, and have them support us,” Batista continued.
Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter ,can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.