The COVID-triggered collapse of the U.S. economy over the past year has been especially hard on hospitality business owners and their employees. Local restaurateurs got creative—and got lots of help—to keep their doors open, especially restaurant families.
Kroger Backs an Incubator Kitchen
Kroger gave grants to five local food entrepreneurs to pay for equipment access, mentorship, and peer support throughout 2021 at the Incubator Kitchen Collective in Newport. Rachel DesRochers, who founded the organization in 2013, helped choose the grant winners from more than 30 applicants: C&G Catering, Fozbakery, F & Goode Desserts, Pata Roja Tacos, and Two Women & an Oven. “We support people,” she says. “Healthy people create healthy businesses, [which] make for a thriving community and economy.”
Taste of Cincinnati All Winter Long
The city of Cincinnati put up $4 million of its CARES Act stimulus funds to support restaurants and bars through a grant program administered by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Foundation. A total of 272 businesses were given grants of either $5,000 or $10,000 in January and asked to offer customer discounts under the Chamber’s Taste of Cincinnati event brand. Kentucky announced similar grants of up to $10,000 for restaurants across the state, allocating $40 million from federal stimulus funds.
The Wrights Hit “Pause”
Daniel and Lana Wright shut down their restaurants (Abigail Street, Senate, Pontiac, and Forty Thieves) after Thanksgiving to save money while riding out the winter COVID-19 surge. After enduring what Daniel jokingly calls “semi-retirement,” they reopened most of their spots in February with new menu items and to-go meal options and scouted a potential new venue in Terrace Park they hope to open this summer. “The past year has been one big wave crashing over us,” says Daniel. “We just tried to duck under it and keep paddling.”