Hundreds of restaurants apply for grants to winterize outdoor seating

Washington-DC

The office will continue to run the grant program “as long as funding is available."

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the District would invest $4 million to assist restaurants in winterizing outdoor seating areas through its Streatery Winter Ready Grant program. 

Just two days after the program launched, nearly 600 businesses have applied. Shawn Townsend, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife & Culture, says he wasn’t surprised at the volume of applications. Instead, he’s surprised at the high demand for outdoor dining equipment, like patio heaters, that are widely unavailable and extremely costly. 

Townsend says the office will continue to run the grant program “as long as funding is available,” and will look at other funding options once it’s reached its $4 million cap. 

That might be tricky as D.C. is in a unique predicament. “Although we operate as a state we’re not recognized as a state by our federal partners,” Townsend said. “So our access to resources have not been equivalent to those of our neighboring states.” 

The city council has been constantly thinking outside of the box to support its restaurant industry — the District’s restaurants, nightclubs, and bars were some of the first businesses to close in March. “When we start to open things up, even more, hospitality will be one of the only industries that will open last,” Townsend said. 

The House of Representatives is expected to move on its Heroes Act Bill, which includes $7 million the District of Columbia wasn’t allocated because it wasn’t a state, Wednesday night. 

“We have been seeing a domino effect over the past couple of months of what the lack of funding that we have received from the federal government has done to our small businesses here in the District,” said Townsend. 

Businesses can apply at coronavirus.dc.gov/recovery-business.

Questions may be directed at nightlife@dc.gov

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