New programs seek to help minority-owned and longtime restaurants

120920 Atlanta: Deborah VanTrece, owner and chef of Twisted Soul Cookhouse, discusses how COVID has impacted her business on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, in Atlanta.    “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”
120920 Atlanta: Deborah VanTrece, owner and chef of Twisted Soul Cookhouse, discusses how COVID has impacted her business on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta chef and restaurateur Deborah VanTrece is part of two new programs hoping to assist restaurants.

Third-party food delivery service DoorDash seeks to help women-, immigrant- and people of color-owned businesses in Atlanta and four other cities, while a program from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have launched Backing Historic Small Restaurants.

DoorDash’s Main Street Strong Accelerator Program is “an initiative providing financial support and specialized educational resources to women-, immigrant- and people of color-owned businesses, who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a press release.

Developed in collaboration with Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF), a nonprofit small business lender and support organization, the Accelerator helps in the “creation of equitable access to opportunity in the restaurant industry with programming designed to help restaurateurs stabilize and adapt their business for long-term success,” according to a press release. More than 90% of AOF’s small business clients are women, immigrants, and people of color.

Applications are open to small business restaurateurs in Atlanta as well as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, and 100 restaurateurs will be selected to participate in the program’s inaugural year.

Those chosen will participate in an eight-week course covering topics such as marketing, technology integration, managing cash flow and menu creation. Participants will create a personalized business plan and will build a network of fellow entrepreneurs.

DoorDash will also deploy $2 million in grants to program participants, with grants made in two $10,000 payments, one at the start and one at the end of the program in May.

An advisory committee composed of restaurant owners and operators — including VanTrece, who owns Atlanta restaurant Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours — will formalize accelerator programming and provide professional and educational support.

Applicants can apply online at doordashimpact.com/accelerator. Applications close March 2 at 8 p.m. Selected applicants will be notified in mid-March.

In addition, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are teaming up on grant program Backing Historic Small Restaurants.

$1 million in grants funded by American Express will be administered by the National Trust and awarded to “25 historic and culturally significant restaurants in the U.S. to help them navigate the impacts of the pandemic and support their financial recovery,” according to a press release.

As part of the grant program, AT&T Business and Dell Technologies will also offer up to $250,000 collectively in products and services to the grantees to upgrade their digital business capabilities.

In addition, Resy, a hospitality technology platform owned by American Express, will offer complimentary use of ResyOS – its restaurant management software – for one year to each of the historic small restaurants selected to help streamline costs and boost restaurant operations.

Main Street America will provide specialized technical assistance on small business marketing strategy for grantees and the National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation will also offer access to virtual educational tools and training to support the 25 awarded restaurants and 75 nominees.

Final grantees will be selected by the National Trust, with input from American Express and a chef advisory committee including VanTrece, Edouardo Jordan, and Kwame Onwuachi.

Historic small restaurants can be suggested for consideration at savingplaces.org/historicrestaurants. Grantees will be announced in May to coincide with National Preservation Month.

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