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American Express announced today their new Backing Historic Restaurants program to help small restaurants keep their doors open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant industry has had an extremely difficult year since coronavirus-related restaurant closures began. And Amex has always been focused on how they can use their platform and mobilize their consumer base to help small businesses. To that end, Amex is launching a search for independently owned restaurants that have been part of their communities for at least 25 years. Then, Amex wants to provide these restaurants with $40,000 grants to lend a helping hand.
American Express is specifically seeking out independently owned restaurants located in historic buildings and neighborhoods. Their goal is to provide $1 million (or potentially more) in grants to eligible restaurants through the Backing Historic Restaurants program. Amex is working in tandem with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Main Street America to identify and protect these historic restaurants. To qualify for the grant, these restaurants must have contributed to their neighborhood’s history, community, or identity over the last 25 years, experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, and be an independently owned establishment. Amex, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Main Street America will give preference to historic BIPOC- and women-owned restaurants, because many have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
These $40,000 grants will help the historic restaurants cover operational costs and make physical improvements to their shops. Dell and AT&T Business will throw in an additional $5,000 for each winner, specifically to help the businesses improve their online presences and digital business models. Twenty-five restaurants will be chosen, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Main Street America will have the honor of making the final selections, with Amex and a chef advisory committee, including chefs Deborah VanTrece, Edouardo Jordan, and Kwame Onwuachi, also weighing in. If there’s a restaurant you love in your neighborhood that has shaped your community for more than 25 years, you can nominate them for consideration here.