Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a common refrain has been the impact of this dreadful disease and the response. The pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on various communities, leading to significant devastation due to its impact on health and the economic downturn in these areas. One of the hardest-hit sectors of our economy has been locally owned restaurants. Statistics show that the pandemic caused a significant portion of locally owned businesses to close since February 2020, with a notable number of those being restaurants.

Entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities have long faced systemic barriers to growth, including limited access to investment capital and business loans, biased community perceptions, and challenges caused by gentrification. While there have been government initiatives aimed at addressing these issues, the aid has been insufficient. In the past, significant efforts were made to improve access to resources for these entrepreneurs, leading to positive impacts on communities across the country. However, the recent pandemic has left many such businesses, particularly in the food service industry, to bear the brunt of the economic downturn.

With reopening underway across the country, it is a pivotal moment for struggling restaurateurs. Initiatives like the Restaurant Accelerator Program (RAP), launched with support from organizations and foundations, aim to provide much-needed assistance. The program pairs participants with entrepreneurship advisors to build actionable growth plans, including direct grant assistance and coaching on various operational and marketing topics to help these businesses become profitable and thrive.

Restaurants serve as a symbol of entrepreneurship and are crucial to the fabric of our communities and the economy. Supporting locally owned restaurants is essential to the overall recovery of our nation. In these challenging times, it is important to support all local businesses and participate fully in our economic recovery. The food service industry plays a vital role in our nation’s financial strength, and restaurateurs from underrepresented communities deserve equal recognition and support for the vital role they play.

Original post date: by Michael Lawson | Jul 10, 2021 

Updated on 02/2024 by LaCora Stephens