In partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Express is launching a national search for historic small restaurants as part of a new grant program called, “Backing Historic Small Restaurants.” Through the program, the companies will support small restaurants that have served communities for decades with $1 million in grant funding.

The latest in a series of initiatives announced this month by American Express to support the restaurant community, the goal of the program is to help small historic restaurant owners improve, upgrade and preserve physical spaces and online businesses as well as to mitigate existing operational costs. Notably focus of the program will be on restaurants “owned by underrepresented groups, including people of color and women, disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.”

During the search, consumers are invited to nominate historic small restaurants for consideration online through Final grant recipients will be selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Main Street America with input from American Express and a chef advisory committee which includes chefs Deborah VanTrece, Edouardo Jordan and Kwame Onwuachi.

“For generations, our nation’s oldest and most historic small restaurants have been safe spaces for customers to share meals, ideas and their culture,” said Colleen Taylor, president of merchant services, U.S. at American Express. “They are at the heart of our neighborhoods, serve our communities, and help advance cultural and social change for those who live there. Many have stood the test of time, but the pandemic has tested them in ways they could have never imagined. The ‘Backing Historic Small Restaurants’ program will help preserve these spaces not only for their legacy but also for their earned place in our nation’s future.”

Among other criteria, nominees must have contributed to the neighborhood’s history or the identity of its neighborhood community for at least 25 years and be a small, independently owned restaurant located in a historic building or neighborhood.

Coinciding with National Preservation Month, grantees will be announced in May with grants being awarded to 25 restaurants. Each restaurant will receive $40,000 in funding for operational improvements from the grant. Additionally, Dell and AT&T Business have partnered with Amex to contribute an added $5,000 to each grantee to upgrade digital business capabilities.

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