DoorDash Supporting NJ Restaurants With $500K in Grants

New Jersey restaurants can apply for $2,500 or $5,000 in funding, to pay rent or purchase cold-weather equipment, PPE and other essentials.

Image courtesy of DoorDash

DoorDash, the country’s largest food delivery service, is donating $500,000 to the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association (NJRHA) to help buoy New Jersey restaurants from losses related to cold weather and especially the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Supporting New Jersey small businesses has always been a priority,” said Governor Phil Murphy today, “but it has taken on new urgency in the Covid-19 environment. Programs like this help greatly in those efforts, and I commend DoorDash and the NJHRA for stepping up to provide this much-needed support for New Jersey restaurants.”

Under the DoorDash program, New Jersey restaurants will be able to apply for $2,500 or $5,000 in funding, which can be used to pay rent, purchase cold-weather equipment, PPE or other essentials. The grant is part of DoorDash’s five-year, $200-million Main Street Strong Pledge, which includes a $10-million grant program for restaurants in cities and states around the country.

“It was very generous of DoorDash,” said Marilou Halvorsen president and CEO of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association (NJRHA). “The application process will go live on February 1, in English and Spanish.

“To be eligible, restaurants have to be independent. They can have multiple locations, but must be incorporated in New Jersey, and chains are excluded. Also, the restaurant to be eligible, has to show a loss from 2019 to 2020 of 30 percent in gross sales.

“We have a committee that will review all applications, which are to be submitted on our website,” she continued.

“The grant amounts, $2,500 or $5,000 are one or the other, no in betweens. I think it will help especially the smaller restaurants that had a hard time navigating the [federal] PPP payroll protection program. PPP was especially hard for some of the Hispanic restaurants, so to make sure it’s easier for them we’ll have all applications in both English and Spanish.

“We’re hoping,” she added, “that within two weeks of application the checks will be issued. We’re a small staff, so we will go as fast as we can to get the money out.

“I think DoorDash saw how severely hit we are in New Jersey. They’ve been good partners of the Association, they became members, and they’ve been working with us, and this is their way to show a commitment to the industry and the small restaurants in the state.

State Senator Vin Gopal, District 11, Monmouth County, and I have been talking about this. He’s done a lot of very good pro-restaurant legislation over the last year. Cocktails to go was one thing, but there’s a bunch.

“The Governor has also has been encouraging these public-private partnerships, and this is a really good example of that.”

DoorDash went public in December, closing at $189.51, well above its opening price of $102. That gave the company a valuation of $3.4 billion. On Friday the stock closed at $192.

Food delivery services like DoorDash have done well during the pandemic. Some have raised hackles among restaurateurs for the fees they charge, reportedly between 10 and 25 percent of the food order. In May, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop signed an executive order capping food delivery fees at 10 percent. In December, the City Council introduced an ordinance limiting third-party delivery services from charging restaurants more than 15 percent per order.

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