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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Minority-Owned Restaurants, Street Vendors Can Apply For $500 Grants

Grantees are also able to get benefits, including assistance filing for taxes and other business-related resources.

Cofounders Brian Soto and Jackson Flores have created Dish Roulette Kitchen to help minority-owned restaurants.
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PILSEN —  A nonprofit is giving out grants to minority-owned restaurants and street vendors hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dish Roulette Kitchen, a nonprofit created to help minority-owned restaurants struggling during the pandemic, is offering two $500 grants as well as industry expertise. The organization is accepting applications until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, said co-founder Jackson Flores.

Restaurant owners can apply for the grant here.

To be eligible for the micro-grants, restaurants or street vendors must be in the Chicago area, be minority-owned business and have less than $500,000 in annual revenue. The business must have been operating for at least one year and have recorded at least a 25 percent decrease in revenue because of the coronavirus, Flores said.

In addition, grantees will be able to access other resources, like assistance with filing taxes or connecting with a contractor who can help install a pick-up window to adapt to changes due to the pandemic, Flores said. 

The organization recently issued its first round of $500 micro-grants to Pan Artesanal in Hermosa and B’Gabs Goodies in Hyde Park. About 100 applicants applied for the first round, Flores said.

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To date, Dish Roulette Kitchen has raised enough for 10 rounds of grants to go toward minority-owned small businesses, Flores said.

Previous applicants will still be considered for other rounds, she said.

In creating Dish Roulette Kitchen, Flores, who has worked as a food and beverage manager for 12 years, and co-founder Brian Soto, a certified accountant, set out to help businesses struggling through the financial strains of COVID-19. 

The pair started an Instagram page to help promote restaurants that don’t have access to marketing companies to publicize restaurants during the difficult time.

“In the grand scheme of things, $500 isn’t much, but the margins within restaurants are tiny … and businesses are being hit with 30 percent fees from delivery service like UberEats and Grubhub,” Flores said. 

After the pandemic, Flores and Soto hope to help aspiring Black and Brown restaurant owners to build better businesses and better business people from the start. 

“COVID-19 showed us significant gaps within our community and accessibility to technology, or the ability to pivot. A lot of businesses are still cash-only and don’t have pickup or drop-off ability, so they have decided to stay closed during this time,” Flores said. “We hope to be a resource to help build better businesses, with sustainable practices, to be able to withstand a pandemic.

“I want to see our people not only survive, but build out their dreams for sustainability so their family can take care of that legacy and keep it going.”

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