Watertown Restaurant Using GoFundMe to Try to Stay Open

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Watertown’s Ritcey East has struggled since the pandemic, and owner Max Ritcey has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise enough money to keep the doors open at the Waverley Avenue restaurant.

Ritcey said the restaurant has been down tens of thousand dollars behind each month, in part due to paying back COVID loans.

The goal is to reach $30,000 by September, and fans have already stepped up to donate more than $22,000 in the first four days.

See more information about the campaign at the Ritcey East GoFundMe page.

Ritcey posted the following letter on the campaign page:

It’s very hard for me to share this but Ritceys is down on average 20k a month since the pandemic.

I personally keep telling myself it’s coming back but unfortunately with the amount of loans I had to take out during Covid there is no way for me to catch up.

Each month I am paying roughly 7k in debt related to the pandemic. With the lose of sales & the added debt I have to be realistic. I cannot continue like this.

I love what I do and I don’t want to just give up. So my Hail Mary move (for the Catholics or football fans) is to ask for help.

I need to raise at MINIMUM 30k to bring my debt down to a somewhat manageable level. If I cannot do this by our 6th birthday in September I am going to have to sell.

I (Max) appreciate the kind words and all the people who will reach out. At this moment I do not have the emotional capacity to respond. Do know that I love you and appreciate you.

If you have been meaning to try us out and haven’t made it over yet I would really appreciate the support. I will be launching a GoFund me later this week but please know your in person support is just as valuable.

Much love – Max

5 thoughts on “Watertown Restaurant Using GoFundMe to Try to Stay Open

  1. This does not make sense to me. I thought these COVID relief funds did not need to be paid back if it was gotten to help support small or even large business.
    2nd. if you were a going business, wouldn’t you not be loosing 10K a month?
    Something about all this isn’t right.

    • PPP funds came with requirements to maintain employee and compensation levels and proceeds were to be spent on payroll and other eligible costs. If he owes money back, he didn’t use the money the way it was intended.

    • If you read the text on the GoFundMe fundraising page, you’ll see that the owner said they are “loans I had to take out during Covid.” These aren’t COVID relief funds. Instead, they are loans they needed to take out to stay afloat during the pandemic. Those debt payments now total roughly $7,000 per month, which is part of why the restaurant is struggling.

      There are a lot of small businesses that needed to take out loans to survive the height of the pandemic. I’m happy to support Ritcey East by donating to their GoFundMe and dining there more frequently.

      • To Jamie’s point, I think it was harder to secure PPP loans than many realize. I don’t know the details of how Rictey East made it through, but I know they were trying to be creative with their limited resources. It’s already a small staff, and I believe Max was determined to keep everyone on payroll. They would have specialty nights that would often sell out (because the food is insanely good), but they were a relatively new restaurant when COVID started. I’d guess they needed loans for startup expenses, like the liquor license.

        I walk my dog by the restaurant several times each week, and I could tell they have not had the volume guests they had before COVID. However, after last week’s information, it was nice to see them packed with people waiting outside Friday night when I stopped to order take-out.

        We’ll keep supporting them because the food is amazing, Max and Chelsea seem like good people, and it’s restaurants like RE that make small towns interesting places to live.

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