The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the LGBTQ+ community and certifying body for LGBTQ+-owned businesses nationwide, and Grubhub, a leading U.S. food-ordering and delivery marketplace, announced today three recipients of $100,000 grants given by the NGLCC/Grubhub Community Impact Grant Program.
FOODE + Mercantile, Café Gabriela, Pitchers DC and League of Her Own, serving communities in Fredericksburg, Va., Oakland, Calif., and Washington, D.C., were granted $100,000 each at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Back to Business (B2B) Summit 2021. These small business owners are among the first recipients of the $2 million COVID-19 relief funds generated by the Chamber in partnership with Grubhub. With the funds, the NGLCC and Grubhub created the NGLCC/Grubhub Community Impact Grant Program to support struggling LGBTQ+ owned and LGBTQ+ ally establishments.
“The impact of COVID-19 has been debilitating for countless restaurant and bar owners, including the many LGBTQ+-owned restaurants across the country who have persisted through lockdowns, operational changes and labor and supply shortages,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson. “We’re grateful to have partnered with Grubhub to offer real lifelines to support businesses throughout the nation. America’s 1.4 million LGBTQ+-owned business owners have shown incredible resilience over the past two years, and as we travel along this road to full recovery, we are proud to continue being partners for many in our community.”
“COVID has turned the restaurant industry on its head the last 18 plus months, and at Grubhub, we’ve been working hard every day to support our restaurant partners across the country,” said Amy Healy, vice president of government relations for Grubhub. “As the world starts to return to a new normal, we’re proud to partner with the NGLCC and provide these grants to LGBTQ+ owned and LGBTQ+ ally-owned restaurants across the country that are pillars of their communities.”
Here’s what the grant recipients had to say:
“As a trans-masculine and queer, immigrant person of color, I’ve worked hard and put all my love and energy into building a beautiful and welcoming space in Café Gabriela. I’ve remained resilient through COVID and this grant is the injection of funds that we need to continue along our journey to full recovery,” said Penny Baldado, owner of Café Gabriela.
“Building community in a fun and safe place has been our mission since the very beginning. We’re relieved and thankful for these funds, and are looking forward to more stable days ahead,” said David Perruzza, owner of League of Her Own and Pitchers DC.
“The past 18 months have been some of the most challenging in my career. Restaurant people are resilient people, but we are forever changed, and these funds will be crucial as we continue to evolve with new technologies and tools to help us compete in this new normal,” said Joy Crump, founding partner and chef of FOODE + Mercantile.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Grubhub partnered for the month of June for Grubhub’s Donate the Change program, where diners could opt-in, round up their order total, and donate the difference to the NGLCC. Applications for the grant program, ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, opened in September. Recipients were selected based on criteria including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses as well as the restaurants’ plans to use the grant money to recover from the pandemic. Following this initial round of recipients, more grants will be issued in late 2021 and early 2022.
These legacy businesses were initial recipients of a grant program intended to help restaurants and bars impacted by COVID-19. Over the past two years, these small business owners have been among the hardest hit by the global pandemic with loss of jobs and income alongside rising operating costs.
• League of Her Own and Pitchers DC, two Washington, DC based gay sports bars owned by David Perruzza, used savings in the early days of the pandemic to prioritize payroll commitments for his 46 employees. They were soon saddled with debt, unable to pay taxes and other commitments, eventually taking out a Small Business Administration loan to cover overdue tax payments. The establishments plan to use funds from the grant to pay back rent and unpaid utilities so they can break even and move towards financial stability. Both bars are safe spaces welcome to all in the Nation’s Capital, and Perruzza, also a veteran, wants to continue to support and build community for years to come.
• Penny Baldado, a formerly undocumented, trans-masculine and queer immigrant from the Philippines opened Café Gabriela, a neighborhood café “with a big heart”, in 2010 in Downtown Oakland. Before the pandemic, Penny employed four full-time staff, who were paid a living wage and received full medical and dental insurance. After sustaining an 85% decrease in revenue, Penny laid off their last full-time employee in June, but they plan to use proceeds from the grant for rent and marketing, with the hope of rehiring employees in the near future.
• Downtown Fredericksburg, Va. is home to FOODE + Mercantile, the award-winning restaurant brand built on community, with founding partners Beth Black and executive chef Joy Crump, at the helm. At the beginning of the pandemic, Crump and Black persevered through the sudden challenges, first by pivoting to offering fresh groceries and hard-to-find commodities to their guests, and eventually by creating their version of an upscale outdoor dining experience. The two plan to use funding for continuous marketing and promotion, focusing on cross-promotions with their fellow local businesses as well as enhancing their technology. Their immediate goal is to fine tune the touch free aspects of their business while continuing to celebrate the personal experience behind the heart of hospitality.
Of the over 100 grants to be awarded, 30% of the funds available are intended for businesses owned by people of color and transgender/gender non-conforming individuals. In the coming weeks, grant recipients will be notified and a full list of restaurants and bars that received funds will be made available.
For more information on the Community Impact Grant Program please visit www.nglcc.org/ghgrant.