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Food Service Industry Updates

Grant Program Could Be Lifeline for Some Historic Restaurants

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Your favorite restaurant — or maybe even your own business — might have been around for generations and survived economic downturns and changing tastes, but now it could be feeling stressed like never before. Help for operators in this special situation is on the way.

American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have announced a $1 million-plus grant program to support historic small restaurants in the United States during the pandemic. The grants will be awarded to 25 “historic and culturally significant” restaurants. In addition, AT&T Business and Dell Technologies will offer up to $250,000 collectively in products and services to the grantees to upgrade their digital business capabilities.

“For generations, our nation’s oldest and most historic small restaurants have been safe spaces for customers to share meals, ideas and their culture,” said Colleen Taylor, American Express president of U.S. merchant services. “They are at the heart of our neighborhoods, serve our communities and help advance cultural and social change for those who live there. Many have stood the test of time, but the pandemic has tested them in ways they could have never imagined. The ‘Backing Historic Small Restaurants’ program will help preserve these spaces not only for their legacy, but also for their earned place in our nation’s future.”

AmEx and the National Trust said they will consider these criteria for grant recipients:

  • Have experienced significant financial hardship due to the impacts of the pandemic.
  • Have contributed to the neighborhood’s history and/or the identity of a particular neighborhood or community for at least 25 years.
  • Be a small/independently owned restaurant located in a historic building and/or historic neighborhood.
  • Preference will be given to businesses owned by underrepresented groups, including people of color and women, disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.
  • Priority will be given to small restaurants that have not already received significant COVID-19-related aid.

“American entrepreneurship is a defining aspect of our nation’s heritage, and historic commercial landmarks are vital to community identity and economics,” said Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This initiative acknowledges that legacy restaurants are not only welcoming spaces where people break bread, but also gathering places where history is made in meaningful ways, small and large, over and over again. Though hard hit by the pandemic, preserving these treasures helps restore our connectedness and commercial life.”

 Suggestions for grant recipients are being taken here. The deadline for nominations is March 9.

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