25 Recipients of the “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” $1+ Million Grant Program Announced


The $1 Million in Grants are Funded by American Express and Administered by the National Trust, with Campaign Partners Including Resy, Main Street America, the National Restaurant Association and More

American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, today announced the 25 historic and culturally significant restaurants in the U.S. owned by underrepresented groups that will receive funding through the “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grant Program. Read more about these historic restaurants’ remarkable stories on

Each restaurant will receive $40,000 in grants funded by American Express and administered by the National Trust. The National Trust will also provide technical assistance to support the use of the grant funds.

The funding will help each restaurant enhance restaurant exteriors, build new outdoor seating areas, and upgrade online businesses to help mitigate operating costs as they work to recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic.

“We are honored to play a role in supporting these historic small restaurants that have served our communities for decades,” said Jennifer Skyler, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, American Express, and Chair of the American Express Foundation. “This program expands on our legacy of backing small businesses by helping to preserve these iconic restaurants and support their recovery from the pandemic so they can continue to welcome customers for years to come.”

“Historic small restaurants are cultural treasures that strengthen their communities and carry their legacies and traditions forward in deeply meaningful ways,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer, National Trust. “These restaurants have demonstrated their resiliency for decades, and even while dealing with the financial impacts of the pandemic, they have continued to support their communities in many ways. We are honored to partner with American Express to help these landmarks write the next chapters in their amazing stories.”

The 25 historic and culturally significant restaurants in the U.S. were selected by American Express, in partnership with the National Trust, with input from a chef advisory committee assembled by Resy including chefs Deborah VanTrece, Edouardo Jordan, and Kwame Onwuachi.

Each restaurant was carefully evaluated based on the program selection criteria.

“Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grantees



The Four Way Restaurant

Memphis, Tenn.

Dooky Chase Restaurant

New Orleans, La.

Stutts House of Bar-B-Q

Tulsa, Okla.

Suehiro Café

Los Angeles, Calif.

Maneki Restaurant

Seattle, Wash.

Casa Vicky

San Jose, Calif.

Chinatown Garden

Washington, D.C.

La Posta de Mesilla

Mesilla, N.M.

Daddy Dz BBQ Joynt

Atlanta, Ga.

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Washington, D.C.

John’s Place

Cookeville, Tenn.

Alfreda’s Soul Food

Houston, Texas

Kegel’s Inn

Milwaukee, Wis.

Galloways Landing Bar & Restaurant

Boquerón, Puerto Rico

Tex Miller’s Hamburgers

Cameron, Texas

Historic Neir’s Tavern

New York, N.Y.

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge

Detroit, Mich.

Nakato Japanese Restaurant

Atlanta, Ga.

Lee Lee’s Baked Goods

New York, N.Y.

Sweetheart Cafe & Tea

Oakland, Calif.

El Cristo Restaurant

Miami, Fla.

Harold & Belle’s Restaurant

Los Angeles, Calif.

Wanda J’s Next Generation Soul Food Restaurant

Tulsa, Okla.

La Fonda El Taquito

Kansas City, Mo.

Ray’s Luncheonette Inc.

Montclair, N.J.

As part of the grant program, American Express’ partners will also provide support to these historic small restaurants in areas their businesses need most.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this outstanding initiative and support these historic restaurants with innovative products and services that will help them pivot to doing business in new ways,” said Stacey Marx, President, AT&T National Business & Channels. “These are places just down the street where our communities come together, and we’re honored to help them build brand loyalty through a digital customer experience.”

“Like all small businesses, these restaurants and their employees represent the backbone of the U.S. economy and are at the heart of our neighborhoods,” said Erik Day, Senior Vice President, Small Business, Dell Technologies. “In a year where so many businesses have been tested, we’re standing alongside these historic restaurants and providing them solutions that will help them upgrade their digital business capabilities, drive efficiencies and improve the customer experience.”

Services provided by the program partners include:

  • Resy, a hospitality technology and consumer-facing reservation platform that is part of the American Express family, will offer complimentary use of its Resy OS software for one year to each of the historic small restaurants selected. Resy OS powers restaurants around the world, streamlines operations and efficiency and is helping restaurants build back better, faster, stronger.
  • AT&T Business and Dell Technologies will each offer up to $5K to each awarded historic small restaurant for a collective total of up to $250K to spend on products and services for digital upgrades.
  • Main Street America will provide specialized technical assistance on small business marketing strategy for grantees, delivered through a series of three training webinars and Q&A “ask the expert” opportunities with UrbanMain Marketing Specialists.
  • The National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation will offer access to virtual educational tools and training to support the 25-awarded restaurants, as well as up to 75 restaurants that were nominated for the program.
  • Ripl will provide one year free of their social media management services, Nextdoor will provide free media for restaurant promotion to their local communities, and Emerald Brand will provide a sustainable takeout packaging starter kit.

Supporting Small Restaurants

American Express has made several commitments to support restaurants since the beginning of the pandemic, including a national campaign launched earlier this year with Resy to “Order In, Help Out.” The campaign was an extension of American Express’ Shop Small® effort, a global movement to spotlight and support small businesses, especially during the hardships experienced due to COVID-19.