Street Cafe Grant Program Extended Through 2021

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JAN 4, 2021

The pandemic made many consumers wary to dine and shop through much of 2020, particular at indoor businesses. But a special program in Sarasota’s Downtown Improvement District made it easier for businesses to spill into the sidewalks and the open air. Now, leaders for the DID have extended the “Storefront and Sidewalk Café Grant Program” through all of 2021.

Of note, the program exists to do more than create a safer place to do business during the current health crisis. The official purpose of the program is the “create a more attractive pedestrian atmosphere, commercially vibrant environment through street level storefront sidewalk café settings.” Participating businesses can be awarded up to $5,000 in reimbursements for such improvements as new awnings and outside lighting, fixtures for window displays, landscaping, are barriers and outdoor items such as furniture, heaters, umbrellas and trash cans.

The project is only open to businesses within the bounds of the DID and owners must submit receipts for reimbursements within six months of an application approval. But up to that $5,000 limit, business owners can get back 100% of the money they spend.

The first applications for the program were received in late October, and since then 14 companies have taken advantage.

“About half of the applicants have been restaurants,” said John Moran, operations manager for the DID. That includes eateries like Brick’s, Smokin’ Joes and Tsunami Suski & Hibachi.

But there have also been a range of other businesses including art galleries, fashion retailers and spa services. State of the Arts Gallery, Camilyn Beth and Elan Skin Spa all applied and had at least some of their costs reimbursed. Some companies that did small improvements, like Krakowiak Gallery doing $1,100 worth of improvements to awnings and signage, ended up having the grants cover the entire cost of the project.

Then there’s companies like Pastry Art, which did more than $13,000 worth of improvements as it set up outdoor tables with new chairs and umbrellas. Most of that came out of pocket, but a $5,000 grant from the DID eased the cost as the business oriented itself for my sidewalk service.

Photo courtesy Sarasota DID

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