New Grant Program Available to Small, Independent Restaurants in Toronto’s West Queen West Neighbourhood


TORONTO — Small, independent restaurants in Toronto’s West Queen West neighbourhood can now apply to be selected to receive one of five $18,500 grants as part of a new program run by the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation and the West Queen West Business Improvement Area (BIA), supported by American Express.

The initiative is part of American Express’ global Backing International Small Restaurants grant program to support culturally-significant restaurants owned by underrepresented groups in five major cities.

“We are able to implement this ground-breaking work thanks to the generous support of American Express,” says David Downey, executive director of IDA Foundation. “We must do everything we can to build these businesses back up following the devastating economic consequences resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that means infusing our local mainstays with as much direct assistance as possible. Not only will Backing International Small Restaurants help small businesses thrive, but it will also play a role in furthering diversity, equity and inclusion — a key objective of the IDA Foundation.”

“Our members have been fantastic through the past two years, and it is great to see the old vibrancy returning,” says Rob Sysak, executive director of the West Queen West BIA. “The program is a much-welcomed way to help assist the WQW restaurants in continuing to offer the best experiences and be among the most popular in our city.”

“Backing small, local businesses that make our neighbourhoods vibrant is at the heart of our business,” says Kerri-Ann Santaguida, general manager and vice-president of Merchant Services at American Express Canada. “As these businesses gear up for a busy season after two challenging years, we hope this financial support will provide a welcome boost and help reinvigorate Toronto’s thriving restaurant industry.”

Eligible restaurants can apply online until applications close on April 1.

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