Kingsport restaurants excited about new mini-grant opportunity

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Kingsport restaurants are taking advantage of the new mini-grant recently announced by the Kingsport Chamber in partnership with the Downtown Kingsport Association.

The mini-grant announced on Friday is aimed at supporting Kingsport restaurants along with food and beverage businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. It’s funded by the Kingsport Economic Development Board and administered by the Kingsport Chamber.

Specifically, the fund will assist with expenses to restaurants looking to enhance or expand their outdoor dining options or establish an outdoor dining area. According to a release, a total of $45,000 is available in the program with up to approximately $5,000 in grant funds available for each applying restaurant.

While applications are just starting to roll in, business owners are already brainstorming ways to improve their outdoor dining areas, if approved.

“It adds another, for us, probably another 10-15 tables that we can seat people at outside because a lot of people don’t want to come out if they can’t sit outside so it’ll be a big plus for us,” said Owner of Riverfront Seafood, Russell Burdine.

Backwoods Burger Bar owner, Jonathan Russell was so excited about the grant, he said he applied as soon as he received the email.

“Right now the way I’m looking at it, I would like to get one bigger table that maybe fits about six and two smaller tables that do four as well as maybe put a couple in front of our bigger windows that maybe fit two people,” said Russell.

Anne Greenfield, the owner of High Voltage in downtown Kingsport said even simple improvements will make a big difference to customers.

“We’re so blessed to have some outdoor space during COVID, didn’t know how grateful we needed to be for it but now there are a million things we can do to enhance it. We can use it for furniture and heaters but we can also use it for some coverings to protect us from the elements,” said Greenfield.

In a year where revenue has been down, this money will also help with items that were originally planned for 2020, but put on hold because of the pandemic.

“It’s easy to kind of put those things off so this grant can really help us fix some things that were due that we would’ve maybe pushed the envelope on a little bit so that’s very helpful,” said the owner of Main Street Pizza, Jamie Dove.

Dove told News Channel 11’s Kelly Grosfield he also applied immediately upon receiving news of the grant. He also went on to praise the chamber and Downtown Kingsport Association for all the work they’ve done for small businesses during this pandemic.

If he receives the funds, he plans to add new seating, new lighting, expand his current sound system and conduct necessary repair work.

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