SC Politics

Letter: Congressman William Timmons Saved My Business

And more than 400 jobs …

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Dear Editor,

Tipsy Taco has been serving the Upstate award-winning food from our scratch-made kitchen since June 2016. I opened a franchise location late 2019, and my business partners and I ultimately chose to purchase the entire Tipsy Taco brand, closing on March 9, 2020, just days before Covid-19 decimated the hospitality industry.

The voices we listened to at the time told us to be socially distant. Within weeks of purchasing Tipsy Taco, our sales dropped by 80 percent and government-mandated closures impacted hundreds of our employees. Congress acted swiftly and passed the CARES Act which included the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

PPP was enacted to save businesses like ours from shuttering during the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 virus and instructions to shelter in place. After passage of the CARES Act, we applied for PPP to keep our new venture afloat. Without this lifeline, Tipsy Taco was facing an imminent, permanent closure. But within two days of our application, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) denied our request.

According to the spirit of the law, Tipsy Taco was a perfect fit for PPP, but due to the way our purchase was structured, a new Tax ID number was issued and appeared as an entirely new entity to the federal government. Even after producing 14 months of records to prove our case, that Tipsy Taco was an established restaurant around the Upstate, SBA was boxed in by the letter of the law. That’s when I called Congressman William Timmons.

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Tipsy Taco is a local SC business.

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Congressman Timmons and his team went straight to work for Tipsy Taco and its 375 employees. He called the SBA’s top attorney, who confirmed the denial was what the law required. He tried the Department of Treasury and received a similar response. Consistently being faced with dead ends and unwilling to accept that the government was going to put us out of business, and maybe even as a last ditch effort, Congressman Timmons then called President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, hoping to bring our problem to the direct attention of the President himself. 

Congressman Timmons told us he would do everything he could to help us and our employees, and he made good on that promise. In the end, the White House directed the Treasury Secretary to offer new guidance to SBA that would rescue Tipsy Taco, preserve our investment, and keep our employees afloat until we began to return to normal.

William Timmons is a fierce and effective advocate. Because of his action, Tipsy Taco is stronger than ever, with new locations opening across the Upstate. Politicians like to talk about being “pro-business,” but only William Timmons fought for our business and our employees, and he got results.

We can all look back at the pandemic and point out the things we would do differently. The one thing I would not change is asking my Congressman for help. Congressman Timmons wouldn’t take no for an answer, and that’s why Tipsy Taco’s doors are still open and our nearly 400 employees still have jobs today. 

Sincerely,

Lazaro Montoto
Founder/CEO of Tropical Grille, Co-Owner of Tipsy Taco

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