Bida Manda, Brewery Bhavana approved for PPP loans
Posted September 9, 2020 1:44 p.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2020 3:23 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Two months before allegations of workplace misconduct rocked two award-winning downtown Raleigh restaurants, the businesses were approved for federal Paycheck Protection Program loans.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan was designed by the Small Business Administration as an incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The SBA will forgive loans provided that all employee retention criteria is met and the funds are used eligible expenses.
According to a search of the ProPublica database, which compiled a list of businesses that received federal loans of at least $150,000, both restaurants were approved for loans on April 15 from Pinnacle Bank.
Bida Manda LLC is listed as being granted between $150,000 to $350,000. Plenty LLC, the parent company of Brewery Bhavana, was granted a PPP loan between $350,000 and $1 million.
Brewery Bhavana and Bida Manda have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Brewery Bhavana's current owners, Vanvisa Nolintha and Patrick Woodson, announced Tuesday that they plan to reopen the restaurant soon offering curbside pickup.
In June, former employees of both restaurants came forward to WRAL, describing an environment that involved the objectification of male and female employees, allegations of sexual assault and a culture of silence.
WRAL spoke with 14 former and current employees of the restaurants. Staff members said it was common for then co-owner Vansana "Van" Nolintha to engage in inappropriate relationships with younger male employees. Former employees also alleged sexual misconduct by beverage director Jordan Hester.
Following the allegations, Van Nolintha, who is Vanvisa's brother, stepped away from both restaurants, saying that he planned to no longer serve as a managing partner in the restaurants and divest his ownership.
Hester was let go from the company after the allegations. WRAL has spoken with 10 women, some of whom were employed at Bida Manda at the time, who allege Hester sexually assaulted or harassed them.