Shake Shack returning $10 million government loan meant for small businesses

Shake Shack, one of several large restaurant chains that got federal loans through the coronavirus stimulus law meant to help small businesses, said Sunday night that it is giving all $10 million back.

The New York-based hipster-favorite burger company is among more than a dozen companies with annual revenues in the hundreds of millions that are reported to have received money from the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. The loan program set aside $349 billion in the stimulus law called the CARES Act to help small businesses keep their workers on the payroll. Less than two weeks after it started, the program has already run out of money.

In a statement Sunday night on LinkedIn

, Danny Meyer, Shake Shack’s founder and CEO of its parent company, Union Square Hospitality Group, and Randy Garutti, Shake Shack’s CEO, said the company pursued the loan because the law stipulated that it was open to any restaurant location with no more than 500 employees — which describes Shake Shack’s 189 individual U.S. restaurants.

“The ‘PPP’ came with no user manual and it was extremely confusing,” they wrote.