American Express has announced the expansion of its Backing International Small Restaurants grant program, with all food service venues in Melbourne now eligible, as well as those in Sydney.

The program covers all food service venues, so pubs and bars with food service can apply for the grants as well as restaurants and cafés. Run in partnership with the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation and supported by Mainstreet Australia, small food service venue owners are invited to apply for one of 10 grants each valued at $21,500 to put towards expenses or improving their business.

Robert Tedesco, Vice President of Global Merchant Network Services for American Express Australia and New Zealand, said: “Small independently run restaurants are at the heart of our communities and local economies. Many are struggling with the fallout of cost-of-living pressures and need support. It’s why this year we have expanded the program to Melbourne for the first time, in addition to Sydney. We’re lucky to have one of the best dining scenes in the world and we want to see it remain vibrant. The majorityi of small restaurants are family operated, so these grants will help venues keep growing and serving their communities, while protecting their legacy for future generations.”

American Express founded the program to give dining venues a helping hand in the current climate and in its first two years in Australia $240,000 in financial support has gone to venues in Australia.

One recipient of the grant in 2023 was Kabul Social, which serves Afghan street food cooked by displaced refugees and donates two meals to those in need for every one meal sold.

Kabul Social Owner, Shaun Christie-David, said: “The American Express grant has supported us to develop a phone application that gives our customers the ability to track the impact they’re having with each meal. Being able to build stronger connections and loyalty with our customers through technology is vital, especially when we’re experiencing major challenges in the restaurant and dining scene.

“Like so many businesses, ours has seen a reduction in revenue because of people working from home during the week and reduced overall spend because of the cost-of-living crisis. I want to be able to sustain my team’s employment even in the challenging times, so this grant, which is helping us to innovate and connect with people, has been a great boost financially and for our spirits.”

All small independent restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne are encouraged to apply, and venues operated by underrepresented and/or economically vulnerable members of the community will be given special consideration.

David Downey, President and CEO of the IDA Foundation said: “We’re excited to be partnering with American Express again for the third year of the Backing International Small Restaurants program. This year’s expansion to nine global cities demonstrates our shared commitment to boosting long-term sustainability for culturally significant and independent restaurants. By increasing the grant amount, we can provide even greater support to these businesses, empowering them to thrive and continue to be cultural cornerstones within their communities.”

All small independent restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne are encouraged to apply. Applications are now open. To learn more about Backing International Small Restaurants, including eligibility and to apply, visit Applications close on Friday 31 May 2024 at 14:00 AEST.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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