by Will Fowler
In late September, Mayor Bowser announced a $4.1 million grant program for DC restaurants winterizing outdoor dining spaces. The Streatery Winter Ready Grant provides $6,000 for equipment including space heaters, seating and awnings.
“We’re nowhere near Phase Three reopening,” said Gloria Garcia, executive director at Van Ness Main Street. “This grant was announced in anticipation of cold weather. Very few people are ready to go indoors.”
Scott Auslander, director of sales at Bread Furst, said the bakery’s grant application was approved.
“Compared to other city government business, it’s seemed like everyone is doing their best to be as helpful as possible,” said Auslander. “I’ve had a back and forth email with somebody, but the application was so simple that I barely remember filling it out.”
Bread Furst plans to use the funds to build a covering for its outdoor dining space.
“We don’t have much of an awning, so we’re going to get one,” Auslander said.
Rosemary Bistro Café, another grant recipient, is working with Van Ness Main Street and I’m Eddie Cano to set up a streatery in front of their businesses on the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue. Other businesses on the corridor, including Comet Ping Pong and Buck’s Fishing and Camping, have also received the grant.
“They’re going to try and keep these outdoor areas as long as possible, and create an experience that gets people to come,” said Garcia.
While the Winter Ready grant has closed, there’s a waitlist should more funds come available. Garcia said businesses are being encouraged to continue applying.
Bread Furst’s Auslander emphasized the importance of outdoor dining during the pandemic.
“These big patios into the street, it’s nice that people can have an autumn meal outside,” he said. “I hope the grant helps people continue this for as long as possible. In a bad situation, one of the few things that has been nice is walking around and seeing all these people eating outside and having a good time.”