Five Toronto Restaurants Selected to Receive Amex-backed Grants to Help Recover

American Express’ global Backing International Small Restaurants grant program is designed to assist restaurants that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic recover and expand their businesses. The program aims to support culturally significant, independent restaurants owned by individuals from underrepresented groups in five major cities globally.

In Toronto, the program was spearheaded by the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation alongside the West Queen West Business Improvement Area (BIA). Together, they selected five restaurants within the BIA district to receive $18,500 CAD each to sustain operations, enhance digital capabilities, make improvements, and build outdoor dining spaces.

The five selected grant recipients are:</br />

  • Banu, an Iranian restaurant that plans to use the funding for a summer patio build-out, new kitchen equipment, and hiring staff
  • Frisaca, a Mexican restaurant that plans to use the funding for an outdoor patio build-out, replacing a glass entrance door, and building a website
  • Nana Station, a Thai restaurant that plans to use the funding for a new patio, indoor seating, a menu redesign, and social media marketing
  • Nunu Ethiopian Fusion, an Ethiopian restaurant that plans to use the funding for a new patio, social media marketing, and patio musicians
  • Queen Star, a Chinese restaurant that plans to use the funding for new kitchen equipment, a bar counter, tables, and furniture

(Left) Nunu Ethopian Fusion owner Debritu Ketgala (CNW Group/American Express Canada)
(Right) Two out of three Banu co-owners, Salome and Amir Mohyeddin (CNW Group/American Express Canada)

“West Queen West has always celebrated and prided itself on being known for the diversity of business owners, and the products and services they offer. We are very appreciative to the IDA and Amex for this valuable support for some of our most deserving members and helping provide some of the resources to help them recover from the pandemic, prepare for the future, and continue to contribute to the vitality of our exciting neighbourhood” says Rob Sysak, Executive Director of the West Queen West Business Improvement Area.

The program is part of American Express’ larger “Backing Small” initiative, providing economically vulnerable small businesses with financial support. Other programs within the initiative include: a similar U.S. grant program called Backing Historic Small Restaurants, American Express’ Shop Small campaign, and Amex Canada’s local Blueprint: Backing BIPOC Businesses mentorship and grant program.