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Small business owners feel the weight of personal debt guarantees

The pressure is tightening on restaurant owners, fitness centers and other small American businesses trying to hold on until the economy is fully open. And unlike most large companies, the burden is often deeply personal.

Townsend Wentz borrowed from his family to open his first fine restaurant in Philadelphia in 2014. The chef eavesdropped on his own capital at home, wiped out all appearances of a retirement account and redirected college funds for his daughter to his business. Approximately $ 1.5 million in personal investment is now at last. The pandemic has closed five places several times for parts of the year.

On top of that, Mr. Wenz, 53, has a one-place personal guarantee, which makes him liable for about $ 540,000 in rent payments for five years and an additional $ 1

75,000 for an alcohol license. The guarantee weighs on Mr. Wenz as he juggles telephone bills, tax liabilities, rent payments and other expenses.

“It’s like trying to stand in quicksand,” he said. He hopes that all his restaurants will reopen this month.

Small business owners who commit or sign a lease often end up providing a personal guarantee in which they promise to be responsible for the payments if the business is unable to pay.

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