Small business pandemic
Aladdin Hillcrest, one of the recipients of a grant from the California Restaurant Foundation. Photo credit: Screen shot, Google Street View

The California Restaurant Foundation (CRF) has awarded $3,000 grants and year-long business support to 50 local eateries, among hundreds of recipients throughout the state.

The local winners include restaurants in San Diego, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside and San Marcos.

The Restaurants Care Resilience Fund issued $1.5 million in grants to 356 restaurants, thanks to support from SoCalGasPacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and Wells Fargo.

It’s the second straight year the energy companies and Wells Fargo partnered with the foundation to help California restaurant owners.

“The COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected our small business customers in the food service industry, and we know that many California restaurants are still trying to bounce back,” said Carla Peterman, a PG&E executive. “We’re grateful to partner once again with the California Restaurant Foundation to invest in our hometown restaurants’ kitchens and crews through the Restaurants Care Resilience Fund.”

Recipients can use their $3,000 grants for equipment upgrades and employee retention bonuses. The support services from Wells Fargo provide restaurant owners with resources to enhance and streamline their businesses, including monthly Zoom training with fellow grant recipients and a complimentary membership to the California Restaurant Association.

“In order to create a sustainable, vibrant and diverse culinary community, it is important to ensure independent restaurant owners are set up to achieve long-term success,” Jim Foley, an executive in Wells Fargo’s Pacific region. “The goal of our support services is to aid the industry’s recovery by equipping restaurant owners with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive for years to come.”

Of the total grant recipients, 72% are female and 83% identify as people of color. Their average time in business is 9.7 years, with nearly 80 restaurants in operation for more than two decades. To qualify, the restaurants could not exceed $3 million in revenue.

“Restaurant owners have worked tirelessly over the last two years to keep doors open and feed their community, and we’re grateful to SoCalGas, PG&E, SDG&E and Wells Fargo for recognizing that it’s  critical to continue to support and invest in local restaurants,” said Alycia Harshfield, the restaurant foundation’s executive director.