June 11, 2020 By Allie Griffin
New York City is offering $3 million in grants to local restaurants struggling to stay afloat given the coronavirus shutdown.
The grants will help restaurants in neighborhoods hit particularly hard by the virus to employ and pay their workers, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced today.
The initiative, titled the “restaurant revitalization program,” will offer grants of up to $30,000 each to eligible restaurants to pay workers’ wages of $20 per hour for at least six weeks.
“As we move closer to reopening the city’s economy, we must tend to the small businesses… especially our restaurants,” said McCray, who has been appointed chair of a task force guiding the city’s coronavirus response.
The program will prioritize restaurants in 27 neighborhoods across the five boroughs that have been significantly burdened by the virus and are largely communities of color. In Queens, restaurants in Corona, Briarwood, Jamaica, Rockaway and the Queensbridge area will be given priority.
“These restaurants mean so much to the people of this city, but they have been dealing with immense challenges even before this pandemic…” de Blasio said. “When COVID came along, it hit them so hard.”
Preference will also be given to restaurants that are helping their communities by offering free meals to essential workers and low-income residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative will select 100 restaurants to begin with, which would give about 1,000 New Yorkers their jobs back. Those eligible can apply online.
“We’ll start by saving 100 restaurants,” McCray said. “Bringing back roughly 1,000 displaced restaurant workers.”
Restaurants that receive the grants must commit to paying their employees $15 minimum wage, on top of tips. The businesses will be required to report wage increases annually.
The Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC and the nonprofit One Fair Wage are funding the grant program.