San Mateo County grant program to help restaurants, breweries and wineries

SAN CARLOS, Calif. (KGO) -- A first-of-its kind grant program in San Mateo County focuses on restaurants, breweries and wineries. The fund worth more than $2 million aims to help businesses that have not qualified for previous grants.

Chris Garrett, the owner of Devil's Canyon brewery in San Carlos, said he couldn't be happier about the program. He said he approached county supervisors last year to let them know that businesses like his were falling through the cracks. He applied for the new grant, as soon as applications opened Monday at noon.

"This bar here," he said, pointing to a large empty space, "it was serving over 4,000 people a week and now it's just nothing. We've shut all the machines off. It's just idle."

Devil's Canyon has already lost millions of dollars. Garrett said he'll take any help he can get.

San Mateo County said it's keeping the grant application process as simple as possible by eliminating a first-come-first serve system and instead giving businesses two weeks to apply.

"We're not asking for tax documents upfront. We're not asking people to upload complicated or sensitive information. Our goal is to get checks into hands ideally, by next month," said Don Cecil with the San Mateo County Economic Development Association.

Businesses apply online by answering about 20 questions to determine eligibility. County staff will gather applications until March 8. A lottery system will choose about 200 businesses for grants of up to $10,000. Businesses can use the money to pay rent, buy equipment and pay employees. They will not need to show proof of how they spent their grant funding.

Cecil added that the county will assume any business has been hurt by the pandemic.

If Garrett gets a cheque, he knows exactly how he will spend it.

"We're gonna pay rent, pay, or PG&E, and hopefully continue to pay employees," he said.

Garrett said this grant is a lifeline for the 30 or so breweries and wineries in the county that haven't qualified for other grants because they're not always considered a small business or a restaurant.

"For the breweries, we definitely fell through the cracks," he said.

Supervisor David Canepa said the grant program is the county's way of helping all businesses.

"When it comes to COVID, we can't leave anyone behind. And that's our breweries and wineries," said Canepa.

For more information on the grant, click here.

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