The London-Middlesex Restaurant Support Fund has been created in partnership with Club House for Chefs and McCormick Canada, the Middlesex London Food Policy Council, Pillar Nonprofit Network, rTraction, Tourism London and the Western Fair District. The fund awards eligible, independent restaurant operators with grants of $1,000 to support their businesses to open or remain open through the difficult times caused by COVID-19.
A champion of cross-sectoral collaboration, it’s no surprise to find Pillar Nonprofit Network among the partners of the London-Middlesex Restaurant Support Fund. When McCormick Canada was seeking a way to grant money to area restaurants, the idea landed in the inbox of Paul Seale, Pillar’s Membership Engagement Manager and a former restaurateur himself. “It was a definite yes,” he says, “and I began reaching out to other network members that I can count on to say, yes, too.” And that’s how the Middlesex London Food Policy Council, rTraction, and Western Fair District came on board to make the project work.
Pillar Nonprofit Network is an umbrella organization for nonprofit and social purpose organizations in London, strengthening individuals and organizations who seek to make positive community change. One of Pillar’s core activities is to bring nonprofits, businesses, and governments together to solve community problems. During the pandemic, for example, Pillar facilitated a collaboration between RBC and the London Food Bank to supply meals to vulnerable Londoners during COVID-19 and arranged for a team of volunteers to deliver the meals by bike. They’ve also worked with Libro and Tech Alliance to run two design challenges to award innovative businesses the money to scale up their business solutions for pandemic problems. Pillar even operates a large co-working space, Innovation Works, to facilitate collaboration and innovation.
Speaking from experience, Paul says, “this is an industry where there are big and small expenses every day. There are no restaurants that wouldn’t benefit from $1000 at this time whether it be for PPE, plexiglass separations, directional arrows, or food to stock the pantry.” He also knows how valuable restaurants are to the community. Taken together, he says, restaurants are big employers and an important part of our local economy, but also, “independent restaurants are a huge part of our community’s experience of culture. And, because this is directed at independently-owned restaurants, these are family-run businesses, often with important community roles.”
Paul believes restaurants are also “an important part of how we give ourselves a sense of occasion,” and he’s looking forward to being able to celebrate — at a restaurant — getting through this together.
The London-Middlesex Restaurant Support Fund has already awarded $1000 grants to thirty-five area restaurants and is seeking local enterprises to contribute to the fund so that more restaurants can benefit. To apply make a contribution, please visit lmrsf.ca.