$1M donation hopes to bring some relief to struggling Black, brown owned restaurants, workers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A major donation will bring much-needed relief for some Chicago restaurant owners.

One million dollars will be split among many Black and brown restaurant owners and their workers, as well as to community members in need.

They were busy doing prep work in the kitchen at Josephine's restaurant Friday, hoping for a busy pick-up and delivery dinner rush. That's pretty much their only option with indoor dining restrictions in place right now.

The restaurant is starting its 32nd year in business, and this has definitely been the most challenging.

"We're screwing out lightbulbs and turning the heat off trying to keep the whole operation afloat," said owner Victor Love.

Love said he's hoping to get some help soon.

He has applied for a grant from the High Road Restaurants group that may be able to offer some relief thanks to a million-dollar donation from an anonymous donor aimed at helping restaurants in minority communities.

"We will be considering geography, prioritizing Black and brown owned," said Saru Joyaraman with High Road Restaurants.

Several Chicago aldermen said they are supporting efforts to help restaurants in their communities.

"It's not only about opening doors of the restaurants to provide meals to the community, but it's also about getting our residents back to work," said Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th Ward.

Love said some of his employees have been with him for 25 years, but now he's having to cut their hours and cut costs anywhere he can to keep his doors open.

The owner of The Woodlawn down the street can relate.

They have been open just two years and they are doing all they can to make it to three.

Owner Donnell Digby has created some outside space for customers but it's a struggle to keep it going and pay the bills. He's also applying for one of the grants.

"Just doing what we can at this time to keep the lights on," Digby said.

Once the grants are approved they say they will get the money out immediately. They say they know time is of the essence. It could be the difference between staying open or closing their doors for good.
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