HOUSTON, May 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Restaurants and bars across the country have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as indoor dining came to halt more than a year ago, making takeout and delivery their only source of revenue. Nearly 2 million restaurant and bar workers lost their jobs and are still unemployed, and as we approach a post-COVID world, restaurants will continue to face challenges and need support as they adapt to the new normal. To meet this challenge, Feed the Soul Foundation, the non-profit arm of Black Restaurant Week, LLC, today announced their first-ever cohort program to support marginalized restaurant entrepreneurs financially and professionally through the Restaurant Business Development Grant Program.

Through the support of Grubhub‚ who donated proceeds from its Donate the Change program during the month of February to Feed the Soul Foundation, and Maker’s Mark®, who provided initial backing and partnership for the establishment of Feed the Soul Foundation’s grant program, the fund will award 25 small businesses with $10,000.00 financial stipends as they prepare to navigate the post-Covid world and the ever-changing consumer dining trends.

Founded by entrepreneurs Falayn Farrell, Warren Luckett and Derek Robinson, the foundation received hundreds of grant applications from disenfranchised restauranteurs in 2020 – of which 94 percent of which were Black-owned.

Applicants were mostly interested in business expansion, standard operating procedures, menu consultation, advertising and marketing assistance, and financial literacy. They also expressed a dire need in two areas: access to capital and expert guidance on how to scale their businesses.

“Black-owned businesses were already faced with funding challenges and creating sustainability before the pandemic. We spent years speaking with restaurateurs to hear their concerns and there was an echoing sentiment,” says Falayn Ferrell, Chairwoman of Feed the Soul Foundation and co-founder of Black Restaurant Week. “We came to understand there is not a one-size-fits-all method. One restaurant needs support in building a digital presence; however, a food truck is seeking knowledge to expand to a brick-and-mortar location. We focused on developing a solution to address individualized concerns with personalized insights to improve and grow their businesses.”

Cohorts will be paired with subject matter experts and consultants during the six-month program that will further their growth and knowledge of the restaurant industry:

  • Financial literacy training presented by Amergy Bank
  • Financial review from independent financial consultants
  • Advertising and marketing training
  • 1:1 business consultations from industry experts
  • Evaluation review
  • The program is part of Black Restaurant Week’s work to support Black-owned culinary businesses across the country. The inaugural cohort includes the following businesses:

    67 Orange (New York, NY)

    Alamar Kitchen (Oakland, CA)

    Binge Kitchen (San Antonio, TX)

    Bushwick Grind (Brooklyn, NY)

    Caribbean Feast Restaurant (Philadelphia, PA)

    Craft Burger (Houston, TX)

    Dre’s Water Ice & Ice Cream (Philadelphia, PA)

    Fainmous BBQ (Houston, TX)

    Fishnet (Baltimore, MA)

    FishScale Inc. (Washington DC)

    Gigi the Vegan, Inc. (Kansas City, MO)

    Goss’Up Pasta (San Francisco, CA)

    Gumbo Social (San Francisco, CA)

    Hot & Cool Café (Los Angeles, CA)

    LêBerry Bakery & Donut (Pasadena, CA)

    Local Green Atlanta C (Atlanta, GA)

    Meals from the Heart (New Orleans, LA)

    Old Major (Baltimore, MA)

    Reggae Hut (Houston, TX)

    Soul Bowlz (San Jose, CA)

    Sweet Brooklyn Bar (Bronx, NY)

    Taco Pete (Los Angeles, CA)

    Taylor’s Tacos (Chicago, IL)

    TeaPosh Naturals, LLC (Jacksonville, FL)

    Toss It Up, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA)

    Feed the Soul Foundation will begin taking applications for 2022 later this year. For more information about Feed the Soul Foundation, please visit feedthesoulfou.org.

    About Feed the Soul Foundation
    Black Restaurant Week, LLC established the Feed the Soul Foundation to aid marginalized entrepreneurs in the culinary industry with business development resources and support to foster sustainable business growth. The goal of the Restaurant Business Development Fund supports marginalized business owners with business development scholarships and emergency funding.

    About Grubhub
    Grubhub is a leading online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace with the largest and most comprehensive network of restaurant partners, as well as 33 million active diners. Dedicated to connecting diners with the food they love from their favorite local restaurants, Grubhub elevates food ordering through innovative restaurant technology, easy-to-use platforms and an improved delivery experience. Grubhub features over 300,000 restaurants and is proud to partner with 280,000 of these restaurants in over 4,000 U.S. cities. The Grubhub portfolio of brands includes Grubhub, Seamless, LevelUp, AllMenus and MenuPages.

    About Maker’s Mark®
    In 1953, in Loretto, Ky., Bill Samuels, Sr., fulfilled his dream to create a handmade and delicious bourbon. He decided to make his whisky in small batches, using soft red winter wheat to enhance the softness and sweetness. He then rotated each barrel by hand for consistency and, finally, aged each barrel to taste. Bill Samuels, Sr., transformed bourbon from a “commodity” into a premium handmade spirit, and today Maker’s Mark® continues to make its bourbon the same way. In recent years, Maker’s Mark has introduced thoughtful, super-premium innovations to its portfolio, including Maker’s Mark 46®, Maker’s Mark® Cask Strength and Maker’s Mark® Private Selection, the brand’s first-ever custom barrel program. For more information, visit makersmark.com.