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Uncommon Oregonians: The Family Restaurant

Businesses closing due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) struck fear into many small business owners in Oregon. Jong Sook Lee, who owns the Korean restaurant Noodle Bowl located in downtown Eugene with her son JC*, was incredibly worried.

“We had to close for two weeks in March. I felt scared, unprepared, and really shocked,” she said. “We have ten employees and I feel responsible for their financial stability.”

COVID-19 Fear and Uncertainty

Noodle Bowl has been a fixture in downtown Eugene since it opened in 2008. But in March 2020, the Korean restaurant faced uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses, including restaurants and retail stores, closed their doors to follow safety precautions outlined by the governor. Then they began trying to figure out when and how to open back up again.

“The past 10 years I was running the restaurant, nothing like this had happened. This closure was totally unexpected,” said Mrs. Lee.

In late March, the government passed the CARES Act, which provided relief for businesses and individual citizens. Among the new protections was the Paycheck Protection Program Act , which provides relief loans to small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

Mrs. Lee paid her employees on time by dipping into her own savings. She was a perfect candidate for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan.

“I had been a customer of a larger bank for many years. But they couldn’t get me processed for a PPP loan at all due to high demand,” said Mrs. Lee. That’s when she came to NWCU.

Rain After Drought

“Heather and JC helped me out with the [PPP loan] process and I received my loan within one week after the application was submitted. It felt like I finally got heavy rain after a drought!”

With her PPP loan processed and funded so quickly, she was able to keep everyone on the payroll. She could also prepare for opening the restaurant up for takeout orders so that they could stay in business.

"Working with NWCU for the PPP loan was a huge relief for my business."

“Working with NWCU for the PPP loan was a huge relief for my business,” said Mrs. Lee. “NWCU made this process as simple and streamlined as possible. I was very satisfied to see uncommonly compassionate support from a local credit union!”

Not only did NWCU help her with a PPP loan, but she was so pleased with the service that she switched her merchant services provider, as well.

“I feel more prepared for the pandemic now that I know NWCU is where I should be heading when I need financial advice,” she says.

We're proud to work with Mrs. Lee and other small businessed in our community! See how we can help your business.

*Full disclosure: JC is now an employee of NWCU.