Local black-owned businesses awarded 2K grants to rebound from COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 9:17 AM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 11:25:08-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — To help Black-owned businesses rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colorado Restaurant Association, Colorado Restaurant Foundation, and Planterra Foods have awarded $2,000 grants to nine across the state.

Planterra Foods contributed to the CRF’s Angel Relief Fund to divide funds among Black-owned restaurants to incentivize repeat dining through gift cards. Restaurants will use the funds to pay for gift cards to give to customers to entice them to return and dine again. Customers who visit these restaurants and spend at least $25 will receive a $25 “thank you” gift card to use at a later date.

“We are thrilled to be able to help this group of restaurants across Colorado,” said Darcey Macken, Planterra Foods CEO. “Planterra Foods believes these Black-owned independent restaurants are a critical part of our communities, and they have struggled fiercely in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. We want to make sure they survive. We’re proud to work with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation to offer critical support and to create momentum by encouraging diners to come back and support these places to make sure they stick around.”

“The Colorado Restaurant Foundation is thankful to Planterra Foods for its support of the Dine Out to Help Out campaign for Black-owned restaurants across the state,” said Laura Shunk, President of the Colorado Restaurant Foundation. “Restaurants are still in crisis, and they need help. This campaign encourages the public to ensure their favorite restaurants survive. Support your favorite Black-owned restaurant -- or try someplace new -- and you’ll get a gift card for a return visit. It’s a win-win.”

In Southern Colorado, three Black-owned restaurants were recipients of the grants, including English Dockside Seafood and Grill.

"One of the reasons I applied for the grant is because of the technique that they're using. Having people come into the restaurant and once they come into the restaurant you give them a gift card to come back. That helps generate interest and business," said Thomas English, Owner of English Dockside Seafood and Grill. "They are helping you to generate continuous income from the grant. So you don't just get the money at once, you get the money to help you do it and then those people get the residual income coming from it

He's been cooking up seafood favorites in Colorado Springs for the last `18 years, but it almost ended due to the pandemic.

"We had to downsize because people weren't coming to dine in anymore so we couldn't afford that overhead," said English.

English says the pandemic took a heavy toll on his business, forcing him to downsize and pivot in order to survive.

"What we did, Billy and I, which is Billys Southern Pride, we banded together to cut expenses and support one another. Also stay around for the community so we an continue to support them and they can continue to support us," said English.

After a year of challenges, he's grateful to be a recipient of the grant and hopes it helps to bring more customers in.

"When a customer comes back, usually it's the food that brings them back so we want that to be a part of the situation but at the same time if you can give them an incentive because we aren't the only ones having a hard time. The patrons are having a hard time too," said English.

The grant will not only help his restaurant but Billy's Southern Pride as well.

"When you come into the restaurant you can come in and chose from his soul food restaurant or my seafood restaurant. If he's busy, they can order from me. If I'm busy, they can order from him," said English.

For more information about English Dockside Seafood and Grill, visit their website or Facebook page.

The recipients of the grant:

  • African Grill and Bar, Lakewood
  • Coco & Crepes, Denver
  • Coffee at the Point, Denver
  • English Dockside Fresh Seafood & Grill West
  • Lucy’s Ethiopian Restaurant, Denver
  • Mawa’s Kitchen, Aspen
  • Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Colorado Springs
  • Ms. Betty’s Cooking, Denver
  • Southern Classic Cuisine, Pueblo