"Backing Historic Small Restaurants" Grant Program Awards $1 Million to Small Businesses
Ben's Chilli Bowl entrance

“Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grant Program Awards $1 Million to Small Businesses

During the pandemic, numerous small businesses closed their doors permanently. Sadly, this included several long-time institutions, many of which had previously operated for multiple decades. Thus, in a bid to help ensure that some iconic small restaurants are able to weather the storm, more than $1 million in grant money is being given to those special spots. 

Recently, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced 25 recipients of the “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grant Program. This program aims to assist historic and culturally significant small restaurants — particularly those owned by underrepresented groups. Among the locations chosen are Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington D.C., Wanda J’s Next Generation Soul Food Restaurant in Tulsa, La Fonda El Taquito in Kansas City, Daddy Dz BBQ Joynt in Atlanta, and many more. These restaurants were chosen with the help of a “chef advisory committee” that includes chefs Deborah VanTrece, Kwame Onwuachi, and Edouardo Jordan.

Each of these establishments will receive $40,000 in grants funded by AmEx and administered by the National Trust. These funds will then be used to accomplish such projects as upgrading restaurant exteriors, accomodating outdoor seating areas, growing their online operations, and more. In addition to the grants themselves, businesses will also earn up to $5,000 in products and services from AT&T Business and Dell Technologies, one complimentary year of Resy (a company owned by AmEx) software, specialized small business marketing strategy assistance from Main Street America, and more.

In a statement announcing the Backing Historic Small Restaurants grant recipients, American Express’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer and Chair of the American Express Foundation Jennifer Skyler said, “We are honored to play a role in supporting these historic small restaurants that have served our communities for decades. This program expands on our legacy of backing small businesses by helping to preserve these iconic restaurants and support their recovery from the pandemic so they can continue to welcome customers for years to come.”

Additionally, National Trust’s Chief Preservation Officer Katherine Malone-France stated, “Historic small restaurants are cultural treasures that strengthen their communities and carry their legacies and traditions forward in deeply meaningful ways. These restaurants have demonstrated their resiliency for decades, and even while dealing with the financial impacts of the pandemic, they have continued to support their communities in many ways. We are honored to partner with American Express to help these landmarks write the next chapters in their amazing stories.”

Once again, it’s great to see many deserving small businesses gaining assistance from larger corporations such as American Express. While the funds that these grant programs offer are much needed, the insight and resources that often accompany them are truly invaluable. With that, hopefully these 25 iconic small businesses will get the help they need from these grants, allowing them to serve many more generations of diners in their communities.

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