American Express grant programme opens for independent restaurants across Greater London and Greater Manchester

Small independent restaurants in London and Manchester can now apply for a share of £220,000 to help grow their business as an American Express-supported grant programme returns for a third year to the UK.

Run by the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation in partnership with the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM) in the UK, the global Backing International Small Restaurants programme has expanded to nine major cities across five countries in 2024.

This year, the UK programme expands to Manchester, a city well known for its vibrant restaurant scene. A total of 20 eligible restaurants of community significance across both Manchester and London will each receive a grant of £11,000 to enhance their business operations and the experience for diners in the months ahead. These improvements will have a long-term impact on business growth and sustainability, allowing owners to grow their customer base and increase community vibrancy.

Restaurant owners in London and Manchester can learn more about the programme, eligibility and apply for the grant at downtown.org/foundation. The deadline for applications is 5am on the 31st May 2024.

The grant programme comes at a time when hospitality operators continue to face a challenging market and rising costs across all areas of their business. The programme will help boost a hospitality sector with its sights set firmly on growth over the next 12 months. According to new American Express research*, in the UK, one third (33%) of hospitality businesses plan to invest in their premises over the next 12 months. The top factors driving this investment are the desire to win new customers (43%) and improve the customer experience (36%).

We’re delighted to once again back small independent restaurants and this year, extend the grant programme to cover venues in Manchester. Our hope is that the grant funding offers a welcome boost to its recipients.
Dan Edelman, Vice President and General Manager of UK Merchant Services at American Express
The Backing International Small Restaurants programme has provided such an important lifeline for some great food businesses who needed a little bit of help to invest during such difficult economic times. We are excited about the expansion of the programme to Manchester as we understand the value it will bring to the local restaurants and the communities. We look forward to working with American Express, the IDA Foundation, and key members of our network locally such as CityCo Manchester and Croydon BID to ensure as many businesses as possible get the opportunity to apply this year.
Ojay McDonald, Association of Town and City Management Chief Executive
Our Independent restaurants form the vibrant pulse of our town centres and cities, which is why it is so crucial to support and invest in the sector. The American Express Grant Programme offers a vital opportunity for independent restaurants to thrive and innovate. We encourage all eligible businesses across Greater London and Greater Manchester to apply and seize this chance for growth.
Matthew Sims, Chief Executive of Croydon BID and Chair of the Association of Town and City Management London.

What the Grant is For

The grant must be used towards critical business needs that support the restaurant for long-term business sustainability. Potential uses could include critical improvements needed to sustain the business operations such as enhancing digital capabilities, building outdoor dining spaces, purchasing new equipment and making other physical improvements.

Who Can Apply

The grant program is focused on venues owned or operated by underrepresented or economically vulnerable members of the community. This might include those experiencing hardship, women, people of colour, LGBTQIA+, immigrants, etc.

Further Information

Make sure you double check the eligibility criteria before you submit your application. FAQs are available here. The Terms and Conditions are available here. Once you are sure that you meet the eligibility criteria, fill out the application form here.

For any other questions, please contact Cathy Lin of the IDA Foundation, at cathy@downtown.org, or call or message IDA Foundation via Whatsapp at +1 (202) 656-5541.