Saugatuck ice cream shop denies it received — or even asked for — millions of federal coronavirus relief funds


  • Daniel Padavona, Shutterstock

A Saugatuck business owner says she was perplexed to learn that her small ice cream shop was awarded a hefty $2 million of Paycheck Protection Program coronavirus relief funds — at least according to a database released by the U.S. Small Business Administration on Monday.

Owner Lisa Freeman says she learned that her 'Round the Corner Ice Cream LLC was listed as being approved for the funds after journalists, including a reporter from The Detroit Free Press, reached out for confirmation following the release of the database.

"I answered the phone and I thought this was some kind of a joke," Freeman told the Freep.

A representative from the SBA told the paper that the number listed is the amount of funds approved, and not necessarily the amount dispersed. But Freeman says she did not request or even receive the $2 million.

"This is a grave error," she added. She says she asked for and received $20,000 for her ice cream store and less than $100,000 for a spice and tea store chain she also owns.

The small, seasonal ice cream shop only employees 10 people. But the company was listed among corporations that received more than $150,000, including Zehnder's, Buddy's Pizza, and National Coney Island, which all employ 250 people or more.

The apparent error in the PPP loans is just one of many that have surfaced so far, raising concerns that the federal government doled out the money haphazardly. Publicly traded corporations like Shake Shack drew backlash for taking PPP money intended for small businesses.

Somewhat amusingly, the anti-welfare Ayn Rand Institute also requested and received PPP funds.

So many restaurants, so little time. Sign up for our weekly food newsletter delivered every Friday morning for the latest Detroit dining news.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.