LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Thanks to lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic, Jose Villifana is two months behind in rent for his Lake County business, Wolf Branch Brewing Company.

What You Need To Know

  • The Lake County Commission voted to double CARES Act payments from $5,000 to $10,000

  • The COVID-19 shutdown has been financially difficult for small businesses

  • Loosening of restrictions has helped businesses reopen

Thousands of dollars in bills have been piling up for him, and many other small businesses in the area, thanks to restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, though, the Lake County Commission threw Villifana and many others a lifeline when members decided to double the county’s CARES Act payments for small businesses.

“The pandemic crushed us,” Villifana said. “Crushed us, crushed us, crushed us.”

State restrictions on bars, which included Wolf Branch Brewing Company, forced businesses to close down completely until Monday when they were allowed to reopen.

Since the shutdown, Villifana said he’s been surviving on income based solely on selling mugs of beer.

“We don’t have the capacity to brew a lot,” he said. “To actually be selling to distributors and selling wholesale to kind of keep us afloat.”

Villifana has fallen two months behind on his rent, leaving him $10,000 in the hole.

As luck would have it, that is the exact amount the Lake County Commission is now offering to small businesses, up from the previous $5,000.

“In fact, some of the checks will be going out today to our local businesses,” Commissioner Sean Parks said. 

For Villifana, the money will help him stay in business for the time being.

“I mean, it’s super helpful right now,” he said. “I mean, anything is good, obviously. We’ve been operating at a loss.”