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'Taste of Cincinnati All Winter Long' aims to keep restaurants afloat through colder months

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Posted at 5:10 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 19:41:56-04

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati is launching a new stimulus program to help local bars and restaurants struggling during the pandemic. The program, called “Taste of Cincinnati All Winter Long,” focuses on helping businesses survive the winter months.

The city is allocating $4 million in federal CARES Act funding for this program, and brick-and-mortar bars and restaurants can apply for money starting Tuesday.

Grant amounts, intended for local shops only, will range from $5,000 to $10,000 each.

The program is a partnership with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, and like the famous “Taste of Cincinnati,” you can expect some deals with this.

Those who receive grant money will be required to offer promotions and discounts to bring out more patrons.

Discounts are aimed at keeping people coming to bars and restaurants so they can keep their doors open.

“If we can save these restaurants, or not save them but help them save themselves, then we will be doing a huge amount of good,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley at an announcement in Westwood. “And the amount of money we’ll have to spend if we lose all of these bars and restaurants to catch back up will cost us years.”

Cranley said the $4 million allocated for this program is the last of Cincinnati's federal stimulus assistance.

“We’re not at a point where, if we get additional dollars, we can do more local assistance," he said.

Restaurants and bars that receive the grant money can use it for any operational costs.

Joe Lanni of Thunderdome Restaurant Group said he’s hopeful that the grant can help keep his businesses afloat during the colder months. He plans to use the money for things like tents and heaters so people can still come out and dine safely.

“This stimulus and the support it’s going to generate I think are tremendously positive. It’s not just about the $10,000. I think tying it to the ‘Taste of Cincinnati’ was a stroke of genius,” he said.

Britney Ruby Miller, CEO of Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, said every dollar matters amid pandemic closures for local restaurants.

“Trying to, we say, even break even by the end of the year, that’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be extremely difficult, and when you need cash and you need capital -- whether it’s payroll, rent, utilities -- this stimulus check goes above and beyond. You can use it on whatever you want," she said. "Having your city and your mayor back you at a time like this is just incredible and so appreciated."

Learn more about the program and how to apply here.

Here are the eligibility requirements for the grant program:

  • Must have a brick-and-mortar location physically located within Cincinnati
  • Must be either:
    • A restaurant that typically serves dine-in breakfast, lunch, or dinner OR
    • A bar establishment, licensed by the State of Ohio
  • Must be open a minimum of 5 days and 25 hours per week to customers throughout the year (i.e., not a seasonal operator)
  • Must not be a Chain Restaurant
    • If an applicant is not a Chain Restaurant but has multiple locations under the same brand within the City, then the applicant may apply for up to five locations but will not receive funds for more than 3 locations within the City limits. Establishments that are part of a restaurant group with different brands may apply separately for each brand.
  • Must not have an established vehicle drive-thru
  • Must not have a financial or ownership connection to any employee of the City or the Chamber
  • Must be able to attest to financial need for the grant due to increased expenses or decreased revenues due to COVID-19
  • Must not have material liquor violations, code violations, or excessive calls for service within the past 12 months