Additional DRA grants help Raleigh small businesses needing COVID-19 support

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The vibrant outdoor patio setting at Garland Restaurant, complete with colorful decorations and strings of lights, is only possible thanks to the Duke Energy Storefront Revitalization Grant Program.

The program offers Main Street a chance to make improvements, repairs or marketing enhancements to drive sales.

An additional $98,000 was recently put into program to help even more small businesses.

The owners of Garland used grant money to buy all this equipment for their COVID-19 guideline-friendly outdoor space.

"It was essential for what we needed and how we could make it through the fall," said Garland co-owner Paul Siler.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is administering the funds and almost 100 small businesses are taking advantage.

"We've already gotten a lot of the funds out the door, which is a good thing," said DRA President and CEO Bill King. "We've been able to be fast about it because we know businesses are in need."

Downtown Raleigh is struggling to get back normal. There was the COVID-19 shutdown and a string of protests. Some places are still boarded up.

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"By no means are we back to where we want to be or where we should be, but I think there's a lot of interest from the community and support in downtown. I really think the key is we need support for the next few months to get businesses to survive to that moment when offices start to reopen more, the virus is under control and it's safer to be back where we were before," said King.

The DRA is trying to do a few other things to help spots survive.

A Restaurant Week is on tap for February and it's oriented around lunch.

The DRA is also planning to bring back Dine Out Downtown, where streets are closed down for expanded outdoor dining.

Garland for now is only serving al fresco.

Stiler feels it's safest option for customers and staff during these turbulent times.

"Our restaurant is (bringing in) about 20 percent of what it had always done. That's tough to tackle, but the grant is great. There has been some a couple grants that have been helpful and the federal stimulus that is coming soon hopefully is going to be a necessity for a lot of us to make it through this year," said Stiler.
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