City sets aside $12M in grants for restaurants, bars, entertainment venues

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Restaurants, bars and entertainment venues can apply for grants up to $25,000 to cover rent or mortgage costs during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday.

The Hospitality Establishment Lifeline Payment, or HELP, grant program has $11 million available, and applications can be made Oct. 15 through Nov. 6. Another program will offer an additional $1 million.

A news release from the city said demand for the money is expected to be high.

Of the grant money available, $2.5 million will be set aside for minority, women, disability or veteran-owned businesses “out of an understanding that those businesses faced greater hardship before the pandemic struck,” the release said.

More details can be found at response.indychamber.com/helpgrants.

The city has also set aside $1 million to help reimburse restaurants for buying heaters, canopies and outdoor furniture to keep outdoor seating open through the winter months.

Tavern on South put in its own heating system about eight years ago for a cost of about $8,000.

Owner Steve Geisler said it’s usually used around Christmastime and works well until the temperatures get into the teens. But, he expects, the pandemic may cause the heating system to be used even later as people change what they would typically be comfortable doing. While he’s not likely to apply for the heating assistance, he’s planning to apply for the HELP grant.

“Every little bit helps us just survive basically. It’s not really possible to be busy or to really be profitable. We’re just trying to stay open and keep ourselves alive.”

These grants represent the last of the city’s $168 million dollars it received as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“We’re grateful for the City’s assistance for local bars and restaurants. But we know that their success depends on more than relief funds. We encourage all residents to continue to patronize their favorite spots to show their support.”

Patrick Tamm, Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association president and chief executive officer

“Through these HELP Grants and our other ongoing efforts, we will keep fighting for our local businesses. We ask that our partners at the federal level continue to do the same.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett

“These establishments are the lifeblood of the local economy. Our convention and tourism industries are made possible by the hospitality industry. By supporting our bars, restaurants, and live venues now, we’re putting Indianapolis in a position to recover more quickly from the pandemic.”

Andy Mallon, Capital Improvement Board executive director