Two home improvement businesses, Ace Hardware and the Home Depot, are working with D.C. to help its restaurants prepare for the coming winter.
In a normal year, cooler weather would push diners indoors. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the District has capped indoor service at restaurants to 50% of their normal capacity. The smaller number of diners is supposed to help limit the spread of the virus, but it also prevents restaurants from reaching their business projections.
Due to the unique conditions brought on by the pandemic, the city wants to help dining establishments fight the drop-off in business by providing funds to help “winterize” available outdoor space.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office announced a partnership with the home improvement companies to help recipients of their Streatery Winter Ready Grant winterize their outdoor spaces to quickly get ahold of equipment such as heaters, tents, propane, furniture and lighting as restaurants prep their outdoor spaces for colder months.
The Home Depot partnership means a specific catalog of items are available for restaurants in D.C., as well as a dedicated procurement agent.
Mayor Bowser announced the $4 million grant program in September. Grant recipients are getting $6,000 to buy equipment meant to make outdoor dining more appetizing to customers. Restaurants can find the full guidelines for how to make sure their streateries are in compliance on the District’s coronavirus page.
“The tremendous interest in our Streatery Winter Ready Grant program showed us that our restaurants are committed to serving residents in the most creative and safest ways possible,” said John Falcicchio, deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
The Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture is also working with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) and the Downtown DC Business Improvement District to buy portable fuel-fired heaters in bulk. They are getting those from two local businesses: Ace Hardware DC and Twins Ace Hardware in Arlington.
“This partnership is a huge help in getting our businesses what they need to keep employees working and help patrons have the most comfortable and safe outdoor dining experience during the colder months,” Falcicchio said.
The Restaurant Association is encouraging business to fill out a survey to help them determine how to best distribute the heaters. The city also said businesses interested in these heaters can get more information by contacting Katherine Fuchs at Ace Hardware DC or Billy Reilly at Twins Ace Hardware Arlington.
So far, nearly $2.5 million has been awarded to more than 400 recipients through the Streatery Winter Ready Grant Program. Businesses can still apply at and will be placed on a waiting list.