Announcing Grant Recipients of AAPISTRONG Restaurant Fund: 73 AAPI-Owned Small Businesses Win Grants of Up to $100,000

November 10, 2022

Grants supported by the Grubhub Community Fund and distributed by National ACE have been awarded to entrepreneurs across the country to boost AAPI small business recovery

CHICAGO and WASHINGTON, DC – Grubhub, a leading food-delivery marketplace, and the National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) announced that 73 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)-owned  restaurants have been awarded grants of $25,000, made possible with a grant from the Grubhub Community Fund. In addition, three finalists were awarded $100,000 grants each live on-stage at the AAPISTRONG Annual Conference in September.

The AAPISTRONG Restaurant Fund is intended to provide relief to AAPI small business owners in the restaurant industry, amidst an extended period of unforeseeable and unprecedented economic and social volatility. In 2022, the restaurant industry has been hit hard with staffing difficulties, supply chain delays, and inventory shortages.

Krizzia Yanga, owner of the restaurant Bonifacio said, “From factory shutdowns to a scarcity of commercial truck drivers, COVID has affected not only the prices and supply of domestic products, it also made imported products nearly impossible to acquire. As an AAPI restaurant with ingredients that are imported from the Philippines and other Asian countries, the travel restrictions, staff shortages in the logistics industry, and rising cost of transportations have made it difficult for us to maintain fair prices and stay true to cooking authentic Filipino flavors.”

Above: Krizzia Yang, Owner, Bonifacio, Columbus, Ohio

Bonifacio was one of the AAPISTRONG Restaurant Fund finalists, and received $100,000 from the fund. “We are the first full-service and longest standing Filipino restaurant in Columbus and while we have made a name for ourselves and introduced many in our community to Filipino food, it continues to to be a challenge to compete with the larger restaurant groups and chains that Columbus is inundated with, especially in a time of increased xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment.”

Christy Lang, the owner of Smoove Ice Cream based in New York City said, “We started our business during the pandemic, so unfortunately, we didn’t qualify for any government assistant programs since our operating date was after January 2020.  Tourism has been a big part of the Chinatown small businesses, and with travel restrictions, our business has been hit dramatically in 2020 and 2021. Some big challenges that we are facing currently are inflation, supply chain disruption, and labor shortage.”

The AAPISTRONG Restaurant Fund is here to help restaurants respond to ongoing challenges such as paying employees’ wages, expanding operations, or repairing damage to the restaurant caused by discrimination or bias.

Another finalist from Hawaii, Robynne Maii, is doing everything she can to combat food insecurity on her island. “We are concerned about food security in Hawaii. If the boats stopped coming to our islands, the state would have about a two week food supply. This is scary and concerning. When we opened Fête, it was important for us to source as many products as we could, locally. 90% of our produce, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood is sourced locally. By honoring how we source, we send a clear message to our community of where we stand. We support other local businesses to help sustain the economic flow,” said Maii.

Above: Chef Robynne Maii, Fête, Honolulu, Hawaii

These grants are designed to help AAPI-small business owners, their employees, and the communities they serve as they face continued challenges after emerging from the pandemic including inflation, decreased revenue, economic volatility, and labor shortages. They also provide an opportunity for small business owners to give back to and uplift their communities.

Roongkant Preechathammarach, a $25,000 grant recipient, shared: “I ended up donating about 500 meals to healthcare workers to various hospitals in Manhattan. I always offer 5 to 7 different opinions out of excitement to share and satisfy all these health care heroes working so hard! This month, we catered a Meals-On-Wheels event held in Tribeca serving 800 people.

Above: Roongkant Preechathammarach, owner, Lil Chef Mama, New York, New York

A national survey released by National ACE and Reimagine Main Street in May 2022 found that about 40 percent of AAPI respondents lacked confidence to fund an unplanned $5,000 business expense, and over half lacked confidence they could fund the initiatives that would propel their small business to the next level, such as a marketing campaign, increasing payroll, or purchasing property or equipment.

“Our AAPI-owned restaurants have experienced severe losses throughout the pandemic and even worse, are victims of hate, discrimination, and bias at their place of business,” said Chiling Tong, President and CEO of National ACE. “Grubhub’s ongoing commitment to AAPI-owned restaurants is demonstrated by the support they provide annually to National ACE. The contributions from Grubhub and its diners will provide hope for AAPI restaurant owners that have not been listened to or provided for.”

“Restaurants play a vital role in their communities, and Grubhub is committed to helping them have a positive impact on the people they serve,” said Dave Tovar, Grubhub’s senior vice president of Communications & Government Relations. “This grant program, which is made possible through our Grubhub Community Fund, helps alleviate some of the financial strain restaurants have experienced over the last several years – allowing them to market and grow their business and invest in new technologies. We are proud of how our partnership with National ACE for the last two years has helped AAPI-owned restaurants thrive.”