Black Restaurant Accelerator Program Hits 100-Participants Milestone with Grants to Local Businesses

Vance Vaucresson is excited about the future of his family-owned business. On Monday (May 2), he talked with The New Orleans Tribune about new products he hopes to launch and about involving his own children in the business that has been a part of his family for three generations now.

Vaucresson Deli and Cafe is one of several local Black-owned restaurants to receive a $10,000 grant this week from the Black Restaurant Accelerator, a joint initiative of the National Urban League and the PepsiCo Foundation. The Black Restaurant Accelerator is a five-year, $10 million investment from the PepsiCo Foundation in partnership with the National Urban League to preserve and support Black-owned restaurants.

PepsiCo’s C.D. Glin, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Julie and Vance Vaucresson celebrating the announcement of five local restaurants taking part in the Black Restaurant Accelerator Program on May 02, 2022 at Vaucresson Cage and Deli in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Peter Forest/Getty Images for The PepsiCo Foundation)

The announcement to highlight local grantees was made on May 2 at Vaucresson Creole Cafe and Deli, which began the process of transforming its old building on St. Bernard Avenue into a deli/cafe about two years ago. Vaucresson says he hopes to have a soft opening of the restaurant later this month.

Other local establishments to receive a grant include Addis Nola, Beaucoup Eats, Ray’s on The Avenue and Taste & See Personal Chef Services.

In fact, the program has been a lifeline for businesses across the nation who continue to experience the impact of the pandemic. And the inclusion of five local restaurants now brings the total number of participants to 100. To be sure, the pandemic hit Black-owned businesses the hardest, with 58 percent already facing financial distress. According to a University of California, Santa Cruz study, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have shuttered since February 2020 compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses.

“As we welcome back tourists against the backdrop of the cultural events returning to the city, it’s essential to preserve institutions like the Black-owned restaurants,” says Judy Reese Morse, President & CEO, Urban League of Louisiana. “The Black Restaurant Accelerator is key to addressing some of the historical challenges and turning the tides as we seek to preserve the businesses that feed the soul of New Orleans.”

Former New Orleans and President & CEO of the National Urban League Mayor Marc H. Morial was in town to celebrate the announcement along with C.D. Glin, Vice President of the PepsiCo Foundation and Global Head of Philanthropy, PepsiCo.

“Black-owned businesses are the beating heart of our communities. We’ve supported small businesses for decades and watched how they create jobs, inspire new enterprises, and establish legacies for generations,” says Marc H. Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League. “While the pandemic has deepened disparities that hinder our communities, the impact of this program is a testament to the resilience we can foster when we provide the right support. And we need other members of the business community and policymakers to step up, join us and act with urgency to ensure these entrepreneurs have equitable access to critical resources.”

Nationwide, 100 restaurateurs used the $10,000 grants to: 

  • Save more than 60 jobs and hire staff
  • Expand their businesses by opening new locations 
  • Grow their businesses with by taking actions like upgrading or procuring delivery vehicles, investing in kitchen equipment, setting up outdoor seating amid COVID regulations, launching marketing efforts including digital platforms to reach more consumers

In addition to supporting 100 restaurants with grants, 400 additional Black-owned restaurants across the country received more than 2300 hours of counseling and training sessions and about $1.6 million of financing and contract opportunities.  

While Vaucresson says the $10,000 grant will come in handy, the seminars and information he and his wife have learned during the training and counseling sessions are the real perks of participating in the Black Restaurant Accelerator as they have given them energy and resources to explore new ideas to expand their business and brand.

Glin says that is exactly why PepsiCo has partnered with the Urban League for this program.

“Investing to ensure Black-owned restaurants survive is critical to enabling communities to thrive,” Glin says. “Our partnership with the National Urban League and its Entrepreneurship Centers provides comprehensive support in that it provides more than just access to capital but also essential support services that help them reimagine their businesses and make them sustainable for generations.”

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