As we continue to navigate life during COVID-19, foodservice establishments will continue to face challenges and need support as they adapt to a new normal. To help Black-owned culinary businesses answer these challenges, Feed the Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization that’s part of Black Restaurant Week, has announced its first-ever cohort program to support marginalized restaurant entrepreneurs financially and professionally through the Restaurant Business Development Grant Program.

Through the support of Grubhub‚ who donated proceeds from its Donate the Change program during the month of February to Feed the Soul Foundation, and Maker’s Mark, who provided initial backing and partnership for the establishment of Feed the Soul Foundation’s grant program, the fund is awarding 25 small businesses with $10,000 each.

Applicants will look to use the money for business expansion, standard operating procedures, menu consultation, advertising and marketing assistance and financial literacy, among other things. Cohorts will be paired with subject matter experts and consultants during the six-month program that will further their growth and knowledge of the restaurant industry:

  • Financial literacy training presented by Amergy Bank
  • Financial review from independent financial consultants
  • Advertising and marketing training
  • 1:1 business consultations from industry experts
  • Evaluation review

“Black-owned businesses were already faced with funding challenges and creating sustainability before the pandemic. We spent years speaking with restaurateurs to hear their concerns and there was an echoing sentiment,” says Falayn Ferrell, chairwoman of Feed the Soul Foundation and co-founder of Black Restaurant Week. “We came to understand there is not a one-size-fits-all method. One restaurant needs support in building a digital presence; however, a food truck is seeking knowledge to expand to a brick-and-mortar location. We focused on developing a solution to address individualized concerns with personalized insights to improve and grow their businesses.”

The inaugural cohort includes the following businesses:

  • 67 Orange (New York, NY)
  • Alamar Kitchen (Oakland, CA)
  • Binge Kitchen (San Antonio, TX)
  • Bushwick Grind (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Caribbean Feast Restaurant (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Craft Burger (Houston, TX)
  • Dre's Water Ice & Ice Cream (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Fainmous BBQ (Houston, TX)
  • Fishnet (Baltimore, MA)
  • FishScale Inc. (Washington DC)
  • Gigi the Vegan, Inc. (Kansas City, MO)
  • Goss'Up Pasta (San Francisco, CA)
  • Gumbo Social (San Francisco, CA)
  • Hot & Cool Café (Los Angeles, CA)
  • LêBerry Bakery & Donut (Pasadena, CA)
  • Local Green Atlanta C (Atlanta, GA)
  • Meals from the Heart (New Orleans, LA)
  • Old Major (Baltimore, MA)
  • Reggae Hut (Houston, TX)
  • Soul Bowlz (San Jose, CA)
  • Sweet Brooklyn Bar (Bronx, NY)
  • Taco Pete (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Taylor's Tacos (Chicago, IL)
  • TeaPosh Naturals, LLC (Jacksonville, FL)
  • Toss It Up, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA)

Later this year, Feed the Soul Foundation will begin taking applications for 2022.