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City, Chamber's Restaurant Assistance Program Continues With Some New Parameters

coronavirus restaurants
Courtesy of Jason Whitman
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During the pandemic, Cincinnati restaurants saw reduced capacity and limited hours, while others closed entirely.

The city of Cincinnati and the Chamber Foundation are extending and expanding a grant program for restaurants and other establishments. The Taste of Cincinnati All Winter Long was started last year in response to the pandemic. Cynthia Oxley with the Chamber says the grants were meant to help places hurt by limited hours and reduced capacity.

"The restaurants and bars were really grateful and a lot of them said it did help them sustain through those winter months," she says. "So we're doing that again through the summer to be able to assist - whether its staffing or infrastructure - whatever their needs are."

Oxley says the Taste of Cincinnati: All Summer Long grants are in $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 increments, for whatever an establishment needs.

"Outdoor patio, for instance. Things that they would need to do to still be able to operate. My gut says most of them will invest in staff."

The pandemic closed some places, and others saw reduced capacity and limited hours. The health orders are gone, but Oxley says businesses aren't out of the woods yet.

"They're really struggling in other areas as far as getting their workforce back up to speed. Food costs are extremely high right now," she says.

The program is funded in large part by the city, and Oxley says there is a payoff for taxpayers. "Those that receive the grant money also offer a customer promotion. That could be 20% off a gift card, or free fries with a burger. Whatever the promotion that works for them."

Oxley says the All Summer Long program is now open to food trucks, places with walk-up windows, and some Findlay Market vendors. It's limited to those eateries in the city limits and aren't chains. They can't have more than six locations.

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is a financial supporter of Cincinnati Public Radio.