HOUSTON - As the pandemic drags on businesses trying to survive, many Blacked-owned establishments have fared worse than others. A study by the New York Fed estimates 41% of the nation's Black-owned businesses had to shut down between February and April; much more than any other ethnic group.
With that in mind, a national effort is offering a helping-hand that has already reached a couple of Houston-area Black-owned restaurants, with a $25,000 shot-in-the-arm just because they treat their customers well.
Discover has launched its ‘Eat It Forward’ program, which is awarding $5 million dollars to 200 Black-owned restaurants across the country to help combat some of the financial challenges, like limited access to loans that face them.
"The award is really to give back to that community that they're helping to grow," says Discover's Kelly Megal. "We know that everyone has had an effect, due to COVID. So, for us, it was our way to help local communities."
Customer support gets the restaurants nominated, and a random drawing selects each $25,000 award.
Kevin and Ryan Muccular were among the first recipients. The couple opened their Katy restaurant, That's My Dog, a little over a year ago after relocating to Texas and expanding the gourmet hot dog cart they started in Northern California.
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In that short time, they've established a loyal following and the financial recognition is a welcome validation for their business style.
"Folks just voting That's My Dog, and talking about their experience; how they love coming; how they love the food; we're very grateful that we were selected," says Kevin Muccular.
The money was also a vital lifeline for Bobby Narcisse. His Go Cajun Subs sandwich-shop, in Spring, survives on very narrow margins and customer love.
About the award, he says, "That's just going to help me to do everything that I wanted to do, even give me a little sigh of relief; give me a chance to catch a breath."
Discover says it has only selected a quarter of the $25,000 awards and is still accepting nominations.
Both of the Houston-area restaurants, that were selected, say they will use the money to keep giving back and help them pay it forward in the communities they serve.