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Italian eatery Ann & Tony's has weathered its share of challenges over nearly 100 years in business, from the Great Depression to runaway inflation in the 1970s and the financial crisis of 2008.
It never counted on government assistance before and co-owner Ralph Napolitano says the Bronx restaurant isn't depending on getting the loans it applied for during the COVID-19 pandemic either. Small businesses nationwide have increasingly turned to such loans to make up for revenue lost when shelter-in-place orders forced their customers to stay home.
Napolitano told FOX Business he’s applied for small business loans through private lenders and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but he doesn't expect any progress to be made. "Just waiting for answers," he said. “But whatever it is, it is. If it comes through, it comes through. If it doesn’t come through, what are you going to do? You gotta do what you gotta do.”
Once the lockdown is lifted, he's confident Ann & Tony’s will be able to rise from the ashes as it has through every crisis since its founding in 1927.
During times of hardship, Napolitano said, the most valuable lessons he’s learned from his family are to stay strong and push through.
“I remember, even as a little boy, there were times where … we were close to sometimes losing our restaurant,” he said. “But it never happened because the one thing we were taught as kids … is that you can’t complain, you can’t have that victim mindset. You’ve got to be mentally tough. You’ve got to be mentally strong ... And you've just got to do what you've got to do to make it work and to make it happen.”
Napolitano said he’s less concerned about receiving aid and more worried about how the business will operate under new health restrictions. Napolitano and his brother have already purchased thermometers to test employees and, potentially, customers once the restaurant opens its doors.
“Will the government demand us all be tested for antibodies?” he asked. “We’re even talking about that right now, actually – maybe getting myself, my brother and some of our workers tested before we even open and have it posted … that we’ve been tested and we’re all clean and we’re all good to go.”
Ann & Tony’s was founded by Napolitano’s great-grandfather Eugene Napolitano after he immigrated from Italy in 1924. The restaurant still sits in its original Arthur Avenue location and, according to Napolitano, carries out the same family traditions.