Under the program, small, historic restaurants will have the opportunity to improve, upgrade, and preserve their physical spaces and online businesses.
As part of the program, partners of the credit card giant will support the initiative. AT&T Business and Dell Technologies will offer up to $5,000 in products and digital upgrades to each grant recipient. Resy, a hospitality technology platform will offer complimentary use of its restaurant management platform for one year.
The National Restaurant Association will also offer access to its virtual educational tools and training to support 25 grant winners and up to 75 nominees.
“American entrepreneurship is a defining aspect of our nation’s heritage, and historic commercial landmarks are vital to community identity and economics,” Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation said in a statement. “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. We are honored to partner with American Express to preserve these legacies and tell the powerful stories of restaurants that have nourished our souls, helped shape our past, and must be a part of our future.”
In order to be eligible for the small, historic restaurant grants, applicants must have experienced significant financial hardship due to the pandemic and be a small and independently owned by underrepresented groups including people of color and women. Applicants’ restaurants also must have contributed to the neighborhood’s history for at least 25 years.
Preference will be given to businesses owned by underrepresented groups, including people of color and women who’ve been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and small restaurants that have not already received COVID aid.
According to the American Express Independent Restaurant Insight Study, 89% of small independent restaurant owners say they depend on takeout orders to stay afloat. Black-owned businesses including restaurants have struggled in the pandemic.