Small businesses are the cornerstone of American society, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have been severely impacted.
Although being a small business is extremely challenging, being a Black-owned business during these unprecedented times can be even more challenging, especially when you are in an industry that is considered volatile and relies heavily on customers patronizing your establishment.
Throughout this past year, small restaurants across the country have faced an uphill battle in an effort to keep their doors open.
According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 110,000 restaurants permanently closed their doors between the start of the pandemic and December of last year.
Recognizing these challenges, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation has rallied behind small historic restaurants owned by underrepresented groups by launching the “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grant Program and recently announced that 25 historic and culturally significant restaurants would receive grant funding.
One of those restaurants is nestled right in Houston’s historic Third Ward community – Alfreda’s Soul Food.
That’s right, local Black-owned Houston restaurant, Alfreda’s Soul Food, has been recognized as one of the $40,000 grant recipients that will help to preserve their history.
Alfreda’s Soul Food is where culture and community are created, preserved and nurtured. Alfreda’s partners with local schools like the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, and Houston Community College to educate students. The City of Houston, The Lutheran Church and The Art Collectives partnered with Alfreda’s to create a 1,200 square foot History, Heritage and Hope Mural Project.
The owners of Alfreda’s Soul Food, Troy and Marguerite Williams, have also built in ways to give back to the community with Troy working with men transitioning from prison, homeless and drug addiction by employing and mentoring them.
The Williamses plan to use the grant to enhance their online marketing, modernize their exterior and patio, and pay for rental operating expenses.
“Alfreda’s Soul Food has been a staple in the Houston community for decades, and we are excited to be a recipient of the Backing Historic Small Restaurants grant by American Express, said Troy and Marguerite Williams. “Alfreda’s aims to keep stirring up those home cooked savory meals and artistic creations to forge a healthier community, culture, and commerce.”
As part of the grant program, American Express will provide these historic small restaurants support in the areas their businesses need most, such as:
- AT&T Business and Dell Technologies will each offer up to $5K to each awarded historic small restaurant for a collective total of up to $250K to spend on products and services for digital upgrades.
- Resy, a hospitality technology platform that is part of the American Express family, will offer complimentary use of ResyOS – its restaurant management software – for one year to each of the historic small restaurants selected to help streamline costs and boost restaurant operations.
- Main Street America will provide specialized technical assistance on small business marketing strategy for grantees, delivered through a series of three training webinars and Q&A “ask the expert” opportunities with UrbanMain Marketing Specialists.
- The National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation will offer access to virtual educational tools and training to support the 25-awarded restaurants, as well as up to 75 restaurants that were nominated for the program.
- Ripl will provide one year free of their social media management services, Nextdoor will provide free media for restaurant promotion to their local communities, and Emerald Brand will provide a sustainable takeout packaging starter kit.
Congratulations to Alfreda’s Soul Food on this exciting opportunity to enhance their business in the midst of this global pandemic and continue to serve the Greater Houston community.