CRANFORD — Barry O’Donovan, a New Jersey business owner whose restaurant suffered major flood losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene last year, will receive the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Phoenix Award for his efforts to rebuild his business while helping his community recover.
The award will be presented on May 22, during SBA’s National Small Business Week celebration.
Barry O’Donovan was planning a celebration–the third anniversary of his Kilkenny House restaurant, named after the town in Ireland where he grew up. Then Hurricane Irene devastated Cranford and his business on Aug. 28, 2011. The storm left 12 feet of water in the basement which housed the restaurant’s office, electrical system, and food prep and refrigeration area. The flooring in the restaurant was destroyed, and the losses totaled about $300,000.
An astute business owner, O’Donovan had also established a reputation as one of Cranford’s most eager boosters, often donating a percentage of an evening’s proceeds to the local baseball and soccer teams or to a family in desperate need. In order to support the recovery of local vendors and suppliers after Hurricane Irene, O’Donovan set a goal to be open for business by Oct. 15. With Irish hearts and Cranford spirit, contractors, volunteers and others worked long hours and the goal was met.
While the business was closed, he helped find temporary jobs for his staff. Meanwhile, O’Donovan applied for an SBA Disaster Loan and was approved. The funds provided much needed relief and covered his working capital needs and repair costs. Only six weeks after the flood–a week before the mid-October deadline, O’Donovan and his staff of 22 reopened Kilkenny House.
For his display of resiliency and dedication to the recovery of Cranford after Hurricane Irene, O’Donovan will receive the 2012 Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery.
“The Phoenix Award is an acknowledgment of a business owner’s heroic efforts and a recognition of the contributions they make to the economic recovery of their communities,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. “Barry O’Donovan displayed tremendous courage and resourcefulness in the aftermath of the flood, and he exemplifies the spirit one must have to rebound after a disaster like this.”
Since 1998, the SBA has given the Phoenix Award to business owners, public officials and volunteers who displayed selflessness, ingenuity and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities.
The SBA makes low-interest, taxpayer-backed disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations of all sizes. More information about the disaster assistance program is available at www.sba.gov/disasterassistance.
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