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Food delivery company Doordash is reportedly awarding $20,000 grants and business support to 25 Los Angeles County restaurant owners and operators who have struggled to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company will provide the help through its Main Street Strong Accelerator program in partnership with Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit small business lender and support organization.
The 25 L.A. County recipients will get $10,000 of the grant money up front and the remainder will be awarded after they’ve completed the eight-week business course. The program is available to restaurants regardless of whether they are current DoorDash partners or not.
DoorDash’s Accelerator programming recently kicked off with virtual instruction and discussion courses that will cover a broad range of topics from “Finding Your Niche” and “Permits, Licensing, Regulations and all Things Legal,” to “Create the Right Menu” and “Integrate Technology.”
The move comes as L.A. County restaurants were moved into the orange tier recently. That less restrictive stage in California’s color-coded reopening plan boosted indoor dining from 25% to 50% of occupancy or 200 people, depending on which is less.
The program reportedly targets restaurants owned or operated by women, immigrants, and people of color that have been disproportionately impacted by economic constraints of the health crisis. Also, recipients participate in an eight-week restaurant operator course that includes hands-on mentorship and small business advice.
The flood of nationwide applicants was competitive, according to DoorDash spokeswoman Tasia Hawkins, with a total of 100 owners and operators being selected. In L.A. County, the local eateries selected include Amara Kitchen in Los Angeles, Chulita in Venice, Koko’s Mediterranean Cafe in Pasadena, Spicy Sugar in Long Beach, BlaqHaus NoHo in North Hollywood, Four Sea Restaurant in San Gabriel, Lavender Blue Restaurant Lounge in Inglewood, Sweet Blessings by Cyler in Van Nuys, among others. Other recipients are in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.
Sosy Bogharian, owner of Koko’s Mediterranean Cafe in Pasadena, said it’s been difficult running a restaurant while also adhering to COVID-19 restrictions. “When the pandemic first hit we were only doing takeout and delivery. That took away 90% of our orders. Then outdoor dining was finally allowed, but the 6-foot distance between tables meant we could only have three,” Bogharian reportedly said.
She plans on using the $20,000 grant to get back on their feet. “We’re an older establishment, so we’ll use some of that money to try to modernize and get a new website with new ordering capabilities. We’re going to rebrand ourselves and be more accommodating of the new normal,” she said.
Jaratporn Sungkamee, owner of the small Thai restaurant in Long Beach Spicy Sugar, said she plans to use her $20,000 grant to hire three more workers, buy new plates, install an air-conditioning system, and hire a public relations firm to promote the eatery.
Reportedly, nearly 58% of all restaurant delivery sales in the U.S. are being made on door delivery apps, and it’s expected to reach 70% by 2022. DoorDash is the country’s industry leader with 50% market share. As of Oct. 2020, Postmates is the top food delivery service in Los Angeles, according to data from Second Measure. Meanwhile, Uber Eats lags behind DoorDash and is on par with Grubhub.