<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="On April 16, the $349 billion first round of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small business coronavirus relief loans ran out of money after just 13 days.” data-reactid=”16″>On April 16, the $349 billion first round of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small business coronavirus relief loans ran out of money after just 13 days.

Many people were quickly outraged to learn that while so many small businesses were shut out of getting a loan, publicly-traded restaurant chains received loans. These included Shake Shack ($10 million), Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse ($20 million), Potbelly Sandwich Shop ($10 million), Taco Cabana ($10 million), and J. Alexander’s ($15.1 million).

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The PPP guidelines defined a small business as having fewer than 500 full-time employees, but large chains with fewer than 500 employees per location were able to qualify thanks to a carveout that gave restaurant and hotel chains an exemption. (The Senate has approved another $320 billion for a second round of PPP loans, but Congress has not yet passed it; the guideline language in the second round will reportedly seek to prevent public companies from getting the loans.)” data-reactid=”18″>The PPP guidelines defined a small business as having fewer than 500 full-time employees, but large chains with fewer than 500 employees per location were able to qualify thanks to a carveout that gave restaurant and hotel chains an exemption. (The Senate has approved another $320 billion for a second round of PPP loans, but Congress has not yet passed it; the guideline language in the second round will reportedly seek to prevent public companies from getting the loans.)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="By April 19, Shake Shack announced in a LinkedIn post that it would return its PPP loan.” data-reactid=”19″>By April 19, Shake Shack announced in a LinkedIn post that it would return its PPP loan.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer wrote that the PPP “came with no user manual and it was extremely confusing,” and said Shake Shack applied early on in the process, before it was able to obtain alternate funding by&nbsp;issuing $140 million of new Class A shares.” data-reactid=”20″>Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer wrote that the PPP “came with no user manual and it was extremely confusing,” and said Shake Shack applied early on in the process, before it was able to obtain alternate funding by issuing $140 million of new Class A shares.

Now some of the other large chains that got PPP loans are following suit.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 22: A person wearing a protective glove holds a bag outside Shake Shack during the coronavirus pandemic on April 20, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 184,000 lives lost with over 2.6 million infections reported. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 22: A person wearing a protective glove holds a bag outside Shake Shack during the coronavirus pandemic on April 20, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 184,000 lives lost with over 2.6 million infections reported. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 22: A person wearing a protective glove holds a bag outside Shake Shack during the coronavirus pandemic on April 20, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 184,000 lives lost with over 2.6 million infections reported. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Yahoo Finance is tracking these companies and will continue to update the list below.” data-reactid=”33″>Yahoo Finance is tracking these companies and will continue to update the list below.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Sweetgreen announced on April 22 that it will return its $10 million loan, becoming the first chain after Shake Shack to make the move. In a Medium post, the salad chain’s three cofounders wrote that on the same day the chain learned it got a PPP loan, “We learned that the money had run out and so many small businesses and friends in the industry who needed it most did not receive any funds. Knowing that, we quickly made the decision to return the loan.” Sweetgreen has more than 100 locations and has not yet gone public; its latest private valuation is reportedly $1.6 billion.” data-reactid=”34″>Sweetgreen announced on April 22 that it will return its $10 million loan, becoming the first chain after Shake Shack to make the move. In a Medium post, the salad chain’s three cofounders wrote that on the same day the chain learned it got a PPP loan, “We learned that the money had run out and so many small businesses and friends in the industry who needed it most did not receive any funds. Knowing that, we quickly made the decision to return the loan.” Sweetgreen has more than 100 locations and has not yet gone public; its latest private valuation is reportedly $1.6 billion.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Kura Sushi announced later on April 22 that it will return its $6 million loan. “This was a difficult decision because our employees are extremely important to us, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that our finances allow us to weather financial hardship for a longer period than independent restaurant owners,” wrote CEO Jimmy Uba in a letter on the homepage of the company’s web site. Kura Sushi has 25 locations in the U.S. and is publicly traded, with 2019 revenues of $64.2 million.” data-reactid=”35″>Kura Sushi announced later on April 22 that it will return its $6 million loan. “This was a difficult decision because our employees are extremely important to us, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that our finances allow us to weather financial hardship for a longer period than independent restaurant owners,” wrote CEO Jimmy Uba in a letter on the homepage of the company’s web site. Kura Sushi has 25 locations in the U.S. and is publicly traded, with 2019 revenues of $64.2 million.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Ruth’s Chris announced on April 23 that it will return the $20 million loan it received by applying for PPP on behalf of two different subsidiaries. In a statement to press, the company said, “We intended to repay this loan in adherence with government guidelines.&nbsp;As we learned more about the funding limitations of the program and the unintended impact, we have decided to accelerate that repayment… It is our hope that these funds are loaned to another company to protect their employees, just as we intended.” Ruth’s Chris has 150 locations (75 are franchised) and 5,740 employees, with $468 million in revenue last year.” data-reactid=”36″>Ruth’s Chris announced on April 23 that it will return the $20 million loan it received by applying for PPP on behalf of two different subsidiaries. In a statement to press, the company said, “We intended to repay this loan in adherence with government guidelines. As we learned more about the funding limitations of the program and the unintended impact, we have decided to accelerate that repayment… It is our hope that these funds are loaned to another company to protect their employees, just as we intended.” Ruth’s Chris has 150 locations (75 are franchised) and 5,740 employees, with $468 million in revenue last year.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Daniel Roberts is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.” data-reactid=”38″>Daniel Roberts is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more on the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses:” data-reactid=”39″>Read more on the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses:

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Follow Yahoo Finance on&nbsp;Twitter,&nbsp;Facebook,&nbsp;Instagram,&nbsp;Flipboard,&nbsp;SmartNews,&nbsp;LinkedIn,&nbsp;YouTube, and&nbsp;reddit.” data-reactid=”47″>Follow Yahoo Finance on TwitterFacebookInstagramFlipboardSmartNewsLinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.