San Jose to give $5,000 grants to help restaurants survive this winter
Grants can be used to to provide outdoor heating. File photo.

San Jose restaurants in need of financial support during the pandemic can apply for a $5,000 grant starting Oct. 16 to help them  serve customers through the winter.

As the weather gets colder, business owners often have steeper heating bills to pay to keep patrons comfortable. The presence of COVID-19 also means restaurants will have to increase safety measures, especially if the county allows businesses to reopen indoors next week.

Those who choose to continue offering outdoor dining may also have to consider portable heating options — an additional expense some businesses may not have had before.

“We are faced with a severe economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, and restaurants face a brutally difficult road ahead, especially with the approach of winter,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

The grants are part of a $2 million nation-wide Main Street Strong initiative by DoorDash. The food-delivery company partnered with San Jose and The Silicon Valley Organization, a business networking group, to deliver a total of $150,000 in grants to San Jose businesses facing seasonal stress and hardship from COVID-19.

The number of restaurant closures in the United States is continuing to rise as a result of COVID-19. According to a September report by Yelp, 32,109 restaurants nationwide have closed as of Aug. 31. Of these, 19,590 are expected to be closed permanently. Mexican restaurants, breakfast spots and burger joints are among the hardest hit, the report found.

Local examples include the retro-burger joint Peggy Sue’s Diner, which shuttered after 20 years in San Pedro Square, and Emperor Norton’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, which closed after a 45-year run.

“We know that the winter season will put a burden on our local restaurants but this Main Street Strong initiative gives many restaurants a fighting chance at not only surviving, but thriving this winter,” said Madison Nguyen, executive vice president of The Silicon Valley Organization and former vice mayor of San Jose. “This means economic growth for San Jose and a step forward for diners, business owners and employees.”

Applications will be available beginning Oct.16, two days after the county could issue a health order allowing indoor service for the first time since COVID-19 shutdowns. If the new order takes effect, restaurants would be able to open at 25% capacity.

“Our city’s restaurants are finally starting to move forward, and we have to help them maintain the momentum,” said Mariah Ray, public policy and partnerships lead at DoorDash. “DoorDash is deeply committed to supporting our restaurant partners and the communities we serve. This initiative will provide critical financial support to keep restaurants going through the cold weather, and we’re appreciative of The Silicon Valley Organization’s shared support.”

Grant recipients will be notified by the end of December. Restaurants in San Jose with a maximum of three locations can apply.  Restaurants must have 50 of fewer employees as of 2019 and $3 million or less in 2019 annual revenue per location.

Hello Alice, an independent third party, will manage applications, selections and the dispersal of funds.

To apply, visit: https://doordash.helloalice.com.

Contact Carly Wipf at [email protected] or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.

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