American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have announced that applications are open for the fourth annual installment of the “Backing Historic Small Restaurants Program.” This year, the program will award double the number of grants, with the total amount of grant funding increasing to $2.5 million from $1 million. Fifty US historic small restaurants will receive $50,000 each, up from 25 restaurants in years past. The grant program is funded by American Express and administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“Small restaurants represent the rich fabric of our culture, and are the economic engine of our communities – yet they are facing real challenges to their survival with labor shortages and rising costs,” says Alice Lin Fabiano, vice president of community impact at American Express. “American Express is responding to this need by doubling the number of grants offered to support 50 historic small restaurants.”

The program began four years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic to support historic restaurants that were facing dramatic losses in foot traffic and revenue. Over the years, the program has evolved to support restaurants’ longevity and growth as they seek to continue serving our communities daily. Restaurant owners can apply for the grant program online. Community members can nominate their favorite restaurant online as well.

“The National Trust understands the importance of small businesses, especially multi-generational family-owned ones, in creating vibrant communities, and we are delighted to be able to expand this work with American Express,” says Carol Quillen, president and chief executive officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Often, these businesses are centers of their communities, providing a gathering place and helping to cultivate a sense of belonging.”

Through the grant program, Resy, a hospitality technology platform that is part of the American Express family, will also offer complimentary use of Resy OS – its restaurant management software – for one year to each of the historic small restaurants selected to help streamline costs and boost restaurant operations.

Backing Historic Small Restaurants is part of American Express’ Backing Small Initiative, focused on providing financial support and other resources to help small businesses address critical needs. Over the past three years, 75 US historic restaurants have collectively received nearly $3 million through the Backing Historic Small Restaurants program. Restaurant owners used grant funds to make needed improvements to their businesses, including making essential repairs and improvements to infrastructure, expanding outdoor dining, increasing marketing and advertising, upgrading technology and digital tools and improving accessibility.

To be eligible for a grant, US independent small restaurants must operate in historic buildings or neighborhoods, contribute to their neighborhood’s history and identity and have a heritage story about cuisine and community in America. Formal applications and public nominations for eligible restaurants will be accepted through 11:59 pm EST on Monday, March 25.