ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Frank Winhtut was ready to open Pacific Palm Bistro back in February.
“I had this place pretty much ready to open, and I was waiting for the last inspection from City Hall. The health department. And that’s when COVID hit,” Winhut said.
He moved here a year ago from Queens to open the Burmese food restaurant. Since the business hadn’t opened yet, he didn’t qualify for a PPP loan or any other assistance.
“I didn’t get any PPP loan or government grant,” he said.
He thought about giving up, but he didn’t. On Thursday, the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce held an official ribbon cutting in East Allentown.
“This is an act of courage,” said Leonard Lightner, the Allentown director of community and economic development.
“We’re at 25%, 50% occupancy, and we know that for most businesses, restaurants in particular, that’s not really enough to sustain them,” Lightner said.
He says it’s critical to keep patronizing restaurants, and other local businesses, especially with the holidays coming up.
“This is how we build community, and we can bring our people, our citizens, to help our neighbors,” Lightner said.
Frank is hoping the same: “I’m excited to move forward, you know, give it a try.”
He’s looking for a few employees. He says since the soft opening, things seem encouraging, so far.
“I’m feeling great and I’m feeling happy,” he said. “This is a beautiful town, the people are really beautiful.”