Monroe County Executive Adam Bello reports that minority-owned small businesses have suffered a more dramatic hit because of the pandemic, and many owners are struggling to find help.
The 5 Mile Café in Penfield is hoping the Fast Forward Monroe Small Business Grant will be able to help their business weather the pandemic during the winter months.
“It’s great for us as a small business because we could take that money to become more efficient than we already are and get certain equipment to be able to help in the pursuit,” said Dalbert Chambers, general manager of The 5 Mile Café.
Along with more efficient equipment, the 5 Mile Cafe is hopeful the grant will allow them to keep their staff and provide different menu items while upholding quality service.
“We also want to make sure that the speed of service is on point so that customers can come in, get their food, and able to leave so that we can go ahead and rinse and repeat for the next people who are waiting to enjoy our food,” said Chambers.
“I am thankful that the County Executive, that they thought about small businesses, and especially Black-owned businesses, and put it out there in having an allotment for us to go after,” said Lilleth Campbell-Larkins, owner of The 5 Mile Café. “Even for other businesses, I do hope that they will do their best in trying to keep their businesses afloat during this hard time.”
Viticulture Wine Bar in Rochester also hopes to use this grant and believes it will come in handy as small businesses prepare to go through the winter months without outdoor seating.
“I think it’s a really good asset, especially with the second wave, with the fear I think a lot of businesses have of potentially having to close down again and having to worry about if that was to be the next severe case. How are they going to manage to get through that if they have to close down again for another two to three months?” said Courtney Benson, owner of Viticulture Wine Bar.
Along with helping the business stay afloat, the owner of Viticulture Wine Bar believes the grant could be used towards staff, getting ahead on bills, and help drive more door traffic with marketing and advertisement.
“Being a new business in these beginning months, the most important thing is to be able to reach customers and to constantly get clientele coming through the door. So definitely using our resources from that grant could be a good potential to increasing business, especially with us being brand new to the area,” Benson said.
Grants for small businesses range from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the number of employees.
“I feel like if there’s an opportunity for a grant, as a business owner, it’s almost your duty to go ahead and do that. No amount of money is never wasted,” said Benson.