Mayor John Cranley announced today a new program to help Cincinnati restaurants and bars make it through the winter of the pandemic via a series of grants.
While full details are yet to be announced and the program — a joint effort between the City of Cincinnati and Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber — still needs to be approved by city council, it would use $4 million in CARES Act funding to dole out grants to locally owned, non-chain bars, restaurants and breweries. Grants would be between $5,000 and $10,000.
The program would also create a "Taste of Cincinnati" All Winter Long series of promos, encouraging patrons to visit bars and restaurants using special marketing deals.
"We're going to do everything in our power to keep these bars and restaurants afloat through the winter so that in spring, when we finally get back to normal, Cincinnati will be ahead of the curve and we will be growing back faster than every other city in the Midwest," said Mayor Cranley at today's press conference, held at Nation Kitchen & Bar's new Westwood location.
Cranley said he knows that not everyone will feel comfortable dining inside during the winter months, especially those who have health risks and with the current spike in COVID cases, "so we know there's going to be a great deal of suffering between now and the spring."
"If there's one anchor in each neighborhood — I can't save every anchor in every neighborhood and I'm not sure this program will save every anchor in every neighborhood — but if we can save these restaurants and bars (or) help them save themselves, then we'll be doing a huge amount of good. And the amount of money we'll have to spend if we lose all these bars and restaurants to catch back up will cost us years," he said.
Restaurants, bars and breweries can sign up to be notified for when applications are open for the stimulus grants at tasteofcincinnati.com/all-winter-long. Eligibility requirements are outlined on the site, but include:
- You must have a brick-and-mortar within the City of Cincinnati;
- You must be a restaurant that serves dine-in breakfast, lunch or dinner or a bar establishment licensed by the state of Ohio;
- You must be open a minimum of five days and 25 hours per week to customers (i.e. not a seasonal establishment);
- You cannot have an established drive-thru;
- You cannot be a chain — but if you are a local organization with multiple restaurant locations under the same brand within the city, you can apply for up to five locations but can only receive grants for three;
- You have to attest to the fact that COVID-19 has impacted your business;
- and more.
There is no cost to apply and the Cincinnati Chamber will randomly select eligible applicants to receive the grants. The current expected grant amounts are $10,000 for full-service restaurants and $5,000 for restaurants that serve only breakfast or lunch and bars with limited/pre-packaged food.
"We all know this has been an incredibly difficult year for restaurants, bars, breweries, but more importantly for the entrepreneurs, the chefs and the staff who actually bring these places to life in our neighborhoods," said Jill P. Meyer, president and chief executive officer of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, during today's press conference. "The Cincinnati Chamber is proud to stand with an industry that is truly a critical piece of our local economy and they need us now more than ever."