Story at a glance
- Restaurants have taken a major hit during the coronavirus pandemic, forced to adapt to social distancing requirements and seating fewer customers.
- Due to a lack of historical capital, Black-owned businesses were already at a disadvantage before COVID-19.
- Now, the National Urban League is launching a program to boost Black-owned restaurants.
As the restaurant industry looks ahead to a cold winter and ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a new partnership is promising to help about 500 Black-owned businesses over the next five years.
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Since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic in February, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have closed, according to research from the University of California, compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses. But in the wake of George Floyd’s death, many American companies have committed themselves to supporting Black Americans — and Black business.
"This is a key component of the broader investments we're making to bolster Black-owned restaurants and small businesses, which has never been more critical," said Jon Banner, executive vice president of PepsiCo Global Communications and president of PepsiCo Foundation, in a release. "We're honored to build on the important work the National Urban League is doing to diminish the barriers that limit possibilities for Black-owned foodservice businesses and create economic mobility that propels individuals and communities."
The Black Restaurant Accelerator, funded by a $10 million grant from PepsiCo, promises to provide current and aspiring Black restaurateurs with access to capital, training and mentorship from entrepreneurship advisors and PepsiCo employee volunteers. Black Americans have historically been denied access to capital and discriminated against by banks, giving them an inherent disadvantage when faced with economic downturns.
Pepsi, which has made a $400 million commitment to advance racial equality, is also working with the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance to increase the number of Black-owned restaurant franchises and sponsoring Black Restaurant week.
"We're energized by the appetite we've seen for supporting Black-owned restaurants and celebrating the talented Black culinary professionals shaping the food and beverage scene," said Warren Luckett, founder of Black Restaurant Week, in a release.
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