New Hampshire

NH Diner Owners' Error on Coronavirus Relief Form Could Cost Their Restaurant

Their American dream turned into a financial nightmare over a simple mistake, and their loyal customers say it’s not right

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A tiny clerical error could mean the end for a popular restaurant in Epping, New Hampshire.

Ryan’s Place was denied Main Street Relief Funds because of a single decimal point.

“First of all, we were speechless,” said Mickey McDermot, who owns Ryan’s Place with her friend Andy Tierney.

They never imagined a mistake so small could cause such a big problem

“It should’ve been a period instead of a comma there,” Tierney said, pointing at her application.

When applying for coronavirus relief funds, Tierney and McDermot accidentally typed a comma instead of a decimal point, turning what should’ve been $386,000 in revenue to $386 million.

“Oh yeah, we’re doing great,” McDermot joked.

“Yeah, we went from $500,000 to $300 million,” added a sarcastic Tierney.

So, according to their application, the diner certainly didn’t qualify for the Main Street Relief funds meant to help struggling small businesses, and they were denied.

“I felt so defeated I just wanted to go home and cry,” said McDermot.

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They appealed, but the state rejected them again, saying that, under federal guidelines, they are unable to allow individual revisions to expected revenue. It’s a policy local state Sen. Jon Morgan takes issue with.

“To say that you can’t fix a mistake, a really obvious mistake, I think that kind of program needs to be reevaluated from the ground up,” Morgan said.

The two-year-old restaurant is named in honor of McDermott’s 26-year-old son, Army Specialist Ryan McDermot who died unexpectedly in 2013.

“It’s everything to us, it is everything,” McDermot said.

“We absolutely love what we do,” Tierney said.

Their American dream turned into a financial nightmare over a simple mistake, and their loyal customers say it’s not right.

“To deny them and close their business, that’s just unfair,” said Mark Potter.

“A little business like this in a small town, they should be able to get the money,” Tina Balliere said.

Without the grants, they’re struggling, but are standing up to the state before they’ll ever shut down.

“We’re just going to fight for our life, fight for the life of Ryan’s Place,” McDermot said.

Morgan said that, after he shared this story on social media, he’s heard from six other small businesses who have similar stories. He plans to fight on their behalf.

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