New Castle County is offering a new round of grants aimed at helping restaurants continue outdoor dining as the weather turns cooler and COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.
The idea behind the $5,000 Winter Ready Restaurant grants came from the business organization the Committee of 100 and Executive Director Jennifer Kmiec.
"It provides funding for tents, and heaters, and awnings, furniture, really anything that's needed to make these spaces available during the colder months," said Kmiec.
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer said county council approved the grant program on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, using funds from the federal CARES Act program.
"So this is another small way we're working to keep our community healthy and safe, and keep small businesses vibrant during a most challenging time," said Meyer.
For Caffe Gelato owner Ryan German, the grant money will be used to pay for tall outdoor patio heaters.
"Each unit is about $300, and we needed one per table so it adds up," said German.
The heating units should allow the Newark restaurant to continue participating in al fresco dining Wednesdays on Main Street, which have been extended into December along with regular outdoor seating.
"These outdoor patios have been extended through March, at the very least," said German. "These will still be good in the spring too."
"Someone can sit outside in 45-degree weather and sit under this and feel like it's 70 degrees, and that's the difference."
Kmiec is hopeful the grants will help get restaurants through a pandemic winter.
"We want to make sure they're all still here and viable once Delaware is able to safely fully open again," said Kmiec.