The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was meant to be a government lifeline to small businesses, authorizing $349 billion in forgivable loans to companies with fewer than 500 employees (pdf) so they could keep paying employees amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
But some that received money were comparatively large restaurant chains such as Potbelly and Shake Shack, a publicly traded, international fast-food company with nearly 8,000 employees and total revenue of nearly $600 million in 2019. Shake Shack alone got $10 million. As PPP quickly ran out of funds, the company came under fire for taking the money.
Now it says it’s giving the entire amount back to the government, because it was able to get the funds it needed on the public markets.