A customer orders at Felipe’s Taqueria in October. (Photo: Marc Levy)

A municipal Restaurant and Nightlife Relief Grant program will award $2.5 million to eligible Cambridge venues, the city announced Thursday, and is taking applications immediately.

These grants, funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, will provide relief to local, non-franchise cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues such as movie theaters, performance venues and art galleries that have been “heavily” affecting by the Covid-19 pandemic. Restaurants and entertainment venues citywide will be able to apply for grant awards of $10,000 for business expenses such as payroll, rent, personal protective equipment, utilities, goods and equipment and materials used for outdoor dining structures. Applications will be accepted through 8 p.m. Feb. 28.

“The uncertainty of the last two years has made operations difficult for restaurants and nightlife venues, and I am glad we are able to provide some relief at this pivotal time of the pandemic,” Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui said. “These grants, which will prioritize some of our hardest-hit businesses, will help restaurants and nightlife venues that have a long road to recovery.”

The grants will be awarded to prioritize businesses owned by people of color, women and other historically marginalized groups; businesses with fewer than 10 employees; and businesses that have seen a severe decrease in sales from pre-pandemic levels, the city said in an email.

“Cambridge’s restaurants and nightlife venues are a vital part of our community and these sectors have been among the hardest hit by this pandemic,” City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said. “Their economic recovery is critical to our city.”

The City of Cambridge has awarded local businesses $4.8 millon in relief since the start of the pandemic and anticipates giving out an additional $2,500,000 in small-business relief grants this year, DePasquale said.

Though direct city aid to businesses is forbidden by a state “anti-aid” amendment, the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds are not affected, the city’s Law Department has said.

Information is here. Questions can be directed to (617) 349-4654 by email at [email protected].


This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.