Verde Mexican Rotisserie, located in South Lake Tahoe, California, brings in about $100,000 per month in restaurant sales. The popular Mexican restaurant is one of the many businesses that had to shut down in August as the deadly Caldor fire swept across the state.
Co-owner Domi Chavarria told CalMatters the closure of the restaurant for just two weeks likely cost it more than $10,000 in lost inventory alone. Its employees went without paychecks during the closure and profits from a busy tourist season period were lost. CalMatters reviewed documents from El Dorado County that showed the Caldor fire likely cost the region $50.3 million in lost economic activity.
Small restaurants like Verde have few options to recoup lost revenue or to pay employees. DoorDash, which has made investments in local restaurants in the past, is doing so again, announcing a commitment to help local restaurants that are impacted by state- or federally declared natural disasters with a new $1 million Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund.
DoorDash (NYSE: DASH) is working with Hello Alice and the National Restaurant Association to help facilitate the awarding of grants up to $10,000 per restaurant to help cover items such as rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies, payroll and other essential expenses.
The company made the announcement Wednesday morning at the second annual Main Street Strong Restaurant Conference. The initial grants will be awarded to 100 eligible restaurants. Restaurateurs can apply for the Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund at doordash.helloalice.com. Registration opens Nov. 1. Grants will be awarded every three months. Restaurants impacted by recent disasters such as Hurricane Ida and the California wildfires are eligible to apply.
“Restaurants are at the heart of Main Street and they have exhibited immense resiliency when disaster strikes, providing for their communities even when their resources on hand are limited,” said Tasia Hawkins, social impact program lead at DoorDash. “The Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund is one way we are aiming to reduce the financial burden imposed on restaurants following a natural disaster, helping keep restaurant doors open for years to come.”
Restaurants do not need to be a DoorDash or Caviar customer to qualify, but they must be located in either a state- or federally declared natural disaster zone and have suffered a hardship because of the disaster. Additionally, the restaurant must be located in the United States, operate a brick-and-mortar location, own three stores or less, employ fewer than 50 employees per location, be open for at least six months, and maintain revenues of $3 million or less per location in the last 12 months.
Hello Alice is a national organization that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. It will work with DoorDash to help develop the program’s breadth, application criteria and selection process and will administer the awarding of the grants. The National Restaurant Association will help amplify the program’s availability during times of need.
“These grants will help small business restaurants recover while the operators focus on what they do best: offering essential nourishment and comfort to their neighbors,” said Mike Whatley, vice president for state affairs and grassroots advocacy at the National Restaurant Association. “Restaurants are the cornerstones of their communities, and we appreciate the commitment DoorDash and Hello Alice are making to the recovery of our operators and employees following a disaster.”
The Restaurant Disaster Relief Fund is part of DoorDash’s ongoing five-year, $200 million Main Street Strong pledge.
DoorDash adds business programs
DoorDash also announced the Merchant Experience Partner Program and DoorDash Business Manager.
The Merchant Experience program pairs merchants with a dedicated point of contact to help quickly resolve complex support issues, including Merchant Portal support and banking reconciliation. The goal of the program is to streamline the program and provide a personal touch for every partners’ needs, the company said. By the end of the year, the program will expand to provide every restaurant in the U.S. on the Marketplace or Drive platform with a dedicated support contact.
DoorDash Business Manager is a new mobile app for iOS and Android that will be available in the coming months. With the mobile app, restaurants can more easily track live order issues, monitor and assess real-time data on sales and operations and manage their stores wherever they are.