By Greg Argos

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –Philadelphia small business owners are waiting for a relief program to help them stay afloat and protect them from eviction.

“It’s all about survival at this point,” said Stine Pizzeria owner Bobby Saritsoglou.

For Saritsoglou, survival, at this point, means simply trying to pay the monthly bills.

“Now that it’s getting a little bit colder, we’ve shifted again to pickup and delivery,” he said.

Saritsoglou’s Mediterranean restaurant near 17th Street and Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia opened months before the pandemic. It closed for more than eight weeks starting in March.

And after reopening over the summer, Saritsoglou has done everything he can to keep the doors open.

“We’re definitely down pre-pandemic numbers, but we’re just doing our best to survive,” Saritsoglou said.

Now, a new City Council bill is meant to ease life for many small business owners.

Passed unanimously last week and awaiting a signature by Mayor Jim Kenney, the bill would freeze evictions for restaurants for six months if the following criteria is met:

  • The restaurant owner or operator employs no more than 100 people at the location seeking protection
  • There are no more than three total locations within the City of Philadelphia
  • The operator can demonstrate a loss of more than 50% revenue for any two-month period between March and Jan. 1

“I applaud the temporary fix. That’s much needed,” Saritsoglou said.

But Saritsoglou believes more is needed down the road, including financial assistance.

“If we can’t pay our rent now, how are we going to pay our rent in six months with all of that back rent due? It’s not going to be easy to do,” Saritsoglou said.

Right now, city officials say the bill is being reviewed by Philadelphia city attorneys, and the mayor plans to sign it.

A spokesperson says when that could happen isn’t set in stone, but this eviction protection would take effect immediately when the bill is signed.

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