The City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Chamber Foundation are generously funding a program that will stimulate and sustain the City’s restaurant economy as we reopen throughout the summer. Through a collaboration with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Foundation (Chamber), a $4 million grant will fund operational support for restaurants and bars and create a “Taste of Cincinnati®” program to support employment by encouraging increased patronage through investments in marketing and promotional offers. Please note that due to COVID-19 all details of the program remain subject to change if necessary to ensure the safety and health of participants and the public. 

Program Description and Applicant Eligibility:

Eligible establishments must be located in the city of Cincinnati AND one of the following:

  • A restaurant that typically serves dine-in breakfast, lunch, or dinner.*
  • A bar establishment, licensed by the State of Ohio.
  • Independently-operated, locally-owned restaurants with walk-up windows or to-go windows, serving food for immediate consumption.
  • Findlay Market vendors that provide food for immediate consumption
  • Food trucks that are open to the general public on a daily basis within the City of Cincinnati and registered with the City of Cincinnati Health and Fire Departments as of May 1, 2021. Special event only mobile food units or food carts will not be accepted.

Must be open a minimum of 4 days or 20 hours per week to customers throughout the year (i.e. not a seasonal operator)

Must not be a Chain Restaurant**

If an applicant is not a Chain Restaurant but has multiple locations under the same brand within the City, then the applicant may apply for up to five locations but will not receive funds for more than 3 locations within the City limits. Establishments that are part of a restaurant group with different brands may apply separately for each brand.

Must not have an established vehicle drive-thru.

Must not have a financial or ownership connection to any employee of the City or the Chamber.

Must be able to attest to financial need for the grant due to increased expenses or decreased revenues due to COVID-19.

Must not be have material liquor violations, code violations, or excessive calls for service within the past 12 months.

Process for Selection:
Interested and eligible restaurants and bars will apply, at no cost, with the Chamber during a set period of time. Once the application period has closed, the Chamber will confirm eligibility of applicants and randomly select eligible applicants until the program is at capacity.

Interested participants can apply for one of 6 levels:

  • Full-service restaurant that includes dinner service: Expected $10,000 grants
  • Limited-service restaurants that serve only breakfast or lunch: Expected $5,000 grants
  • Bars with limited or pre-packaged food service: Expected $5,000 grants
  • Independently-operated, locally-owned with walk-up windows or to-go windows: Expected $2,500 grants
  • Findlay Market vendors that provide food for immediate consumption. Expected $2,500 grants
  • Food trucks that are open to the general public on a daily basis: Expected $2,500 grants

The total number of grants will be determined by the number of applicants for each category. Grant amounts may be adjusted based on the number of applications received.

* An establishment is still eligible if it is temporarily not serving dine-in customers due to COVID-19 but would typically do so.

** A “Chain Restaurant” is a restaurant or bar that has more than six establishments located anywhere in the world and maintains features such as a standardized menu, branding, décor, etc

Eligible Grant Uses and Conditions:

This program is intended as an economic support program to assist restaurant and bars in maintaining operations in the face of the challenges presented by COVID-19, including required reduced hours and capacity. Therefore, grant funds may be utilized for any operational expense that a recipient deems necessary for continuation of operations; however, it is recommended that the funds be utilized to finance expenses that will increase an establishment’s ability to safely serve patrons throughout the COVID-19 pandemic—such as personal protective equipment for staff or installation of improvements or equipment that will increase the safety of patrons or staff. In no circumstances may the funds be utilized for the purchase of alcohol.

As a condition of accepting a grant under this program, each recipient will be required to (i) be open at least 4 days or 20 hours per week until April 1, 2021; (ii) agree to employ as many staff as financially feasible during this period; and (iii) participate in the Taste of Cincinnati® All Summer Long Promotional Program (as further described below).

 

Taste of Summer® All Summer Long Promotional Program:

Each restaurant or bar will be required to offer a food or beverage discount to patrons, such as gift card discounts, buy-one-get-one offers, free items with the purchase of another item, or percentage discounts. Please provide a brief description of your Taste of Cincinnati® All Summer Long special/discount in 15 words or less. Please make the promotion concise, easy, and attractive for customers. The purpose is to drive additional patrons to your location! Establishments are encouraged to be creative and select discounts that are sustainable throughout the program and drive traffic.

Specials can be limited to certain days or certain times. Coupled with a robust marketing effort, the Taste of Cincinnati® website will feature all participating restaurants and details of the available specials. Patrons will print out offers or show them to servers on their phone.

The Chamber will be coordinating an appropriate and safe timing for this promotional event. Each recipient will be required to participate and hold open the promotional offer until the aggregate value of the discount or promotion offered to the public is equal to half of the received grant amount (ex. $5,000 if a $10,000 grant is received). Once a recipient has given away the minimum required value, then the recipient may opt-out of continuing as part of the promotion; however, all recipients are encouraged to continue their promotion for the entirety of the program.