CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb donned an apron at a restaurant in Tremont on Thursday to announce a new grant program to help support small business restaurants that have been struggling to find staff since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Appearing at a "Server for an Hour" event at Fat Cats, Bibb officially unveiled the High Road Kitchens Grant Program in partnership with One Fair Wage and High Road Restaurants. The High Road Kitchens program is designed to support small business restaurants as they face post-pandemic staffing shortages.
Initially, Bibb was to announce that a total of 10 $5,000 grants would be awarded to small business restaurants in order to help raise wages, recruit staff, and encourage fair labor practices. The $50,000 was made possible by an initial investment from The George Gund Foundation.
However, Bibb said that the city would match the investment, meaning $100,000 will now be available in the program. A spokesperson for High Road Restaurants told 3News that the number of grantees will "likely" increase from 10 to 20, but added that the increased funds will allow the opportunity for potentially different grant amounts depending on the number of applicants and the type of restaurants that apply.
To participate in this program, restaurants must commit, with support from the program, to transition to paying all staff at least $15 an hour plus tip. They must also "implement equitable employment practices through participating in wage model and race and gender equity training courses led by High Road Restaurants staff."
Restaurant owners interested in applying can click HERE. To be eligible for this initial round of grants, restaurants must submit their application by September 30, 2023.
Ohio's current minimum wage is set at $10.10 per hour for non-tipped employees and $5.05 per hour for tipped employees. The Raise the Wage Ohio ballot committee is seeking to put an initiative on the ballot for the November 2024 election in Ohio to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour and end subminimum wages for tipped workers, workers with disabilities, and youth.