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Englewood, Chatham, Auburn Gresham

South Side Businesses Get A Chance To Rebuild Thanks To Activist’s Grant Program

The Small Business Repair Program aims to keep Black businesses alive after many were looted and vandalized in early June.

Ja'Mal Green (r), chats with Nate (l) and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton (c) at an event celebrating small business owners at New Look Restaurant Thursday afternoon.
Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH CHICAGO — Several South Side businesses that were looted and vandalized in late May are on the road to recovery due to a program to keep Black businesses alive.

The Small Business Repair Program, created by activist Ja’Mal Green and David Doig, president of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, was formed in the hours after the looting. They planed to use the program to get entrepreneurs back on their feet as soon as possible.

Green and Doig raised $200,000 in two weeks, donations large and small pouring in from individuals and other businesses looking to help.

Forty businesses across Chatham, Roseland, Pullman, Auburn Gresham, and Burnside received a $5,000 grant, including Plano Vision, Harmony Development, The Taco Spot, Grandway Lash and Nail Studio, Frontline Books and Kulural Emporium, Z Couture and Ware Ranch Steak House.

“We had First Midwest Bank, SG Johnson, a construction firm, an engineering firm. There were a good cross section of folks who pitched in,” Doig said. “When we made the announcement that week, people started reaching out to us.”

Credit: Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chicago
New Look Restaurant, 2544 E. 83rd St., was one of 40 businesses awarded a $5,000 grant to rebuild after looters destroyed their space.

The Dating Game, longtime lounge and South Side institution, was burglarized several days after the May 30 demonstrations. After receiving a call from the security company, manager Carol Richardson made it to the bar just in time to see the three people taken away in squad cars.

But the damage had already been done.

“We had $8,800 in damages, mostly products and windows. We were trying to get our windows replaced quickly, but that was impossible because the window company was receiving so many calls,” Richardson said.

Filing the insurance claims was stressful, as well, Richardson said, because insurance companies tend to treat claimants like suspects instead of victims. So when she discovered the Small Business Repair Program on social media, she contacted them for help.

Frontline Books owner Felicia Goodwin (l) talks with Dating Game manager Carol Richardson (c) and Plano Vision Center’s Natalie Ray (r) at an event celebrating small business owners Thursday afternoon.

“We’ll be able to restock and get back to work,” said Richardson, who is preparing to reopen the bar in two weeks. “I’m so grateful.”

That help was also a godsend for Nate Pendleton, owner and executive chef at New Look Restaurant, 2544 E. 83rd St, whose business incurred over $60,000 in damages during the looting.

“We came back around 3:30 in the morning and found things ripped down and the plumbing messed up,” said Pendleton, a lifelong resident who took over the restaurant several years ago. “We had to replace our whole floor because when they jumped over the bar, they jumped on the sink and the sink messed the pipes up. So we had to have all the piping redone.”

The chef is grateful to the Chicago Neighborhoods Initiative for helping with the most important things he and his team needed to reopen so they can get back to business.

“We need places like these. There really isn’t anywhere in this area where you can sit down and eat. I felt that it was important,” said Pendleton, who lost his daughter, Hadiya, to a shooting in 2013.

“I stay because I believe that we can get back to the place where kids can go to the park with buckets on a hot summer day and splash water on each other.”

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