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Hot Dog Behemoth Nathan’s Returns $1.2M Federal Small-Business Loan

The company, valued at $252 million, announced that it would be returning its loan from the Paycheck Protection Program

Customers wait in a line that wraps around the corner of the colorful Nathan’s Famous restaurant in Coney Island. Nick Solares/Eater

Hot dog icon Nathan’s Famous is joining the growing list of companies that have returned their small-business loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, the Long Island-based hot dog purveyor said that it received — and will return — a $1.2 million loan. Nathan’s was granted the loan on April 21, according to the filing, just two days before the U.S. Treasury Department urged publicly traded companies with “substantial market value and access to capital markets” to repay any loans received. The company, which is valued at $252 million, said it will be returning its loan as a result of those guidelines.

Nathan’s had 259 restaurants and franchise locations as of March 2019, according to the company’s latest annual report. While many of those venues have closed temporarily as a result of coronavirus guidelines, the company has been buoyed by those that remain open — like its restaurant along the Coney Island boardwalk — and an increase in sales of Nathan’s products at grocery stores, according to the SEC filing.

Even if those locations are able to reopen in time for summer, though, Nathan’s may not necessarily have the hot dogs needed to supply them. On Monday, the company shared that Smithfield Foods, the primary manufacturer of its hot dogs, has closed.

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs now joins a growing list of large restaurant chains that have opted to return their PPP funding after it was revealed that they accepted small-business loans. On April 20, restaurateur Danny Meyer co-authored a letter announcing that Shake Shack would be returning its $10 million loan, while Sweetgreen’s founders said they would be doing the same with the $10 million they received. Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Potbelly Sandwich Shop have also received and returned funding.

On Friday, Congress signed a $310 billion refill of the Paycheck Protection Program into law, which could help more small businesses including restaurants and bars.