State agency ‘raises the bar’ with grants to restaurants

January 8, 2021 Editorial Staff
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Thank Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Baileys

Empire State Development (ESD) on Wednesday announced the more than $3 million “Raising the Bar” Restaurant Recovery Fund to assist restaurants in New York State during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This grant funding has been made possible through financial donations led by Diageo North America and supported by Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits and will be implemented by the non-profit National Development Council (NDC). 

Diageo is a global alcoholic beverage manufacturer whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Bulleit and Buchanan’s whiskies; Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas; Captain Morgan, Baileys, Casamigos, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

The “Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund” will help eligible restaurants adjust their operations to the impact of COVID-19 and adherence to New York State’s public health and safety measures during the winter months when outdoor dining is limited.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner Eric Gertler said, “The restaurant industry is a critical component of our state’s economy — encompassing hundreds of small businesses who employ thousands of New Yorkers. This industry has been among the hardest hit by the devastating effects of COVID-19, working hard to stay open, serve customers and keep employees safe.” 

In New York City, indoor dining has been prohibited, while in areas outside the city it has been limited to 25 percent capacity.

“Raising the Bar” grant funding can be used  to comply with social distancing guidelines, expand take-out/delivery operations or accommodate outdoor dining with measures such as plexiglass barriers/partitions, signs promoting social distancing and hygiene protocols, heaters, heat lamps, weatherization upgrades and insulated delivery bags.

Qualifying purchases and expenditures must be from Sept. 1, 2020 onwards to be eligible. Initial round of grants are up to $5,000. –>

Eligible businesses consist of New York State restaurants that have no more than $3 million in 2019 revenue and are engaged in providing food services and meals prepared on-premises to patrons who traditionally order and are served while seated, including certain on-premises food and drinking establishments licensed through the State Liquor Authority and which need funding to adjust to COVID-related impacts and protocols. 

Establishments providing takeout or grab-and-go food services due to COVID-19 restrictions are also eligible to receive the grant from NDC. Additionally, these establishments must have been in operation on or before 

ESD is New York’s chief economic development agency.

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