The new Winter Outdoor Grant Program, a joint effort of the State of Colorado and the Colorado Restaurant Association, is launching today. Restaurants will now be able to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to help cover the costs of winterized outdoor seating equipment and installation.
The CRA surveys its member restaurants regularly, and over the past eight months, many of them have conveyed the need for financial assistance and more seating capacity to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting restrictions. Together with the state, the CRA held a design webinar with architects, engineers and restaurant professionals to look at outside dining options as the first prong of the Winter Outdoor Grant Program, and now the application form for grant money is online.
There are currently two rounds of grants planned; the first runs from today until November 13, with money scheduled to be distributed on November 23, and the second runs from November 30 to December 12, with payout on December 21. A third round could be added if enough donations are added to the grant pool in the coming weeks.
The CRA says that grants will be awarded with financial hardship and geographical distribution in mind; eligible projects will include anything built since August 1, currently in the works or in the planning phase. The money can be used to pay for design, construction, permitting and supplies of outdoor dining spaces for use in cold weather. The list of other requirements (available on the grant application website) notes that "corporate-owned chain locations" are not eligible, but franchisees are welcome to apply.
A large part of the program's funding came from Xcel Energy-Colorado, which chipped in an initial $500,000 and will match donations of $50,000 up to an additional $250,000. “This is one of the largest gifts the Xcel Energy Foundation has made in the State of Colorado, and it reflects how vital restaurants are to our communities and how important it is that they continue to be there for all of us, during and after this crisis,” Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy-Colorado, said in a statement. “We hope this gift helps restaurants continue to keep the lights on, innovate their outdoor spaces, and be a vital economic driver in our communities.”
The CRA's website also includes outdoor design concepts from several studios and firms, and a list of resources available to help get restaurants started.
In addition to this program, restaurants can apply for a separate grant from the City and County of Denver, which extended its Temporary Outdoor Dining Program at the end of last week. The extension is funded with $435,000 from the federal CARES Act, and businesses have until November 13 to apply online.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.