NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc, owner of the Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurant chain, said on Thursday it would quickly repay $20 million in federal bailout loans it received to help keep mass salary during the coronavirus crisis, a program aimed at small businesses.

FILE PHOTO: A Ruth’s Chris Steak House is seen days before the phased reopening of businesses and restaurants against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 21, 2020. REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage

The announcement came after the US Treasury said a popular public company would struggle to secure a coronavirus relief loan in the next round of funding.

It also came after public pressure, with an online petition garnering over 260,000 signatures, asking Ruth to return the money.

Ruth’s decision on Thursday was first reported in The Wall Street Journal.

A spokeswoman did not respond to requests for more details on when the loan will now be repaid, and whether the company would be able to continue paying healthcare and salaries or would need to seek a additional funding to do so.

There has been widespread concern that big businesses have taken out loans even though they have other means of finance not available to mom-and-pop shops, many of which have received nothing from the scheme.

“You’re going to kill your brand,” famed entrepreneur Mark Cuban told CNBC on Monday of publicly traded companies that have applied for loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Shake Shack Burger Chain SHAK.N earlier this week became the first public company to say it will return the funds now, rather than repay the loan over time.

Instead, the New York-based company, publicly valued at more than $1.6 billion, was able to raise $150 million in equity.

Like other public companies, Ruth qualified for PPP financing.

“Our goal was to use the funds to keep as many of our team members on the job for as long as possible, cover 100% of health care benefits, and enable Ruth’s Chris to rebuild its workforce as quickly as possible,” said the company in a statement obtained. by Reuters.

He intended to repay the loan in line with government guidelines, but decided to accelerate repayment “as we learn more about the program’s funding limitations and unintended impact.”

“We remain committed to protecting our hard-working team,” the statement read. “We hope that these funds will be loaned to another company to protect its employees, as we had planned.”

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Sandra Maler and Diane Craft