June 22, 2024


Food & Travel Enthusiast

American Express – American Express Supports Small and Independent Restaurants Around the World with two “Backing Small” Grant Programs


Applications Now Open for Second Annual “Backing International Small Restaurants” Grant Program in partnership with the International Downtown Association Foundation

25 Recipients of a total of $1 Million in Third Annual “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grants Announced in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation

June 2, 2023 – NEW YORK – American Express is continuing its powerful backing of the restaurant community by announcing funding and other resources to support the growth of small and independent restaurants through two grant programs: “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” in the U.S. and “Backing International Small Restaurants.” Including the Backing Historic Small Restaurants grants described below, American Express will have provided funding for grants to over 100 global restaurants through these programs since their inception.

“Backing small businesses is core to what we do at American Express. These grant programs support the important cultural and historic independent restaurants within our communities,” said Madge Thomas, Head of Corporate Sustainability & President, American Express Foundation. “Both ‘Backing Small’ grant programs help preserve these restaurants’ established legacies and celebrate the rich variety of cuisines they serve around the world. We’re delighted to once again partner with both the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the IDA Foundation.

 Second Annual “Backing International Small Restaurants” Grant Program

 For the second year, American Express is bringing back the “Backing International Small Restaurants” program to five major cities – London, Mexico City, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto. In partnership with the International Downtown Association Foundation, the program will supply $450,000 in grant funding to help independent restaurants with community significance. Restaurant owners can learn more about eligibility and apply for a grant at downtown.org/event/bisr here through Friday, July 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

 “As we launch the Backing International Small Restaurants program for the second year, we recognize the vital role that small, independent restaurants play in our communities,” said David Downey, Executive Director, IDA Foundation. “This program is a demonstration of our commitment to supporting these businesses and helping them thrive and succeed in the wake of ongoing economic challenges worldwide. It is an honor to implement this innovative work with the generous support of American Express.”

 Third Annual “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grant Program

 For the third year in a row, and in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Express is also officially announcing the recipients of the “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” grant program in the U.S. These 25 recipients will each receive $40,000 in funding – collectively $1 million in grant funding – to help them improve the business’ physical space and support critical operating costs, with the goal of helping these restaurants make an even larger positive impact on their communities. As part of the program, Resy, the American Express-owned restaurant technology platform, is offering complimentary use of ResyOS for one year to each grant recipient. The Resy OS software helps restaurants operate more efficiently and improves hospitality.

 “This year’s restaurants embody the unique stories of how local businesses empower communities, sustain cultural traditions, and extend family legacies,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Once again, we heard from small restaurants of all kinds from soda fountains and craft breweries to BBQ stops and specialty bakeries, and from all over the country, reaffirming that, thanks to American Express, these resilient businesses can continue to grow, thrive, and serve their communities.”

The 25 grantees were selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation from a group of historic and culturally significant restaurants that operate in historic buildings or neighborhoods, who contribute to their neighborhood’s past and identity.

Photo courtesy of the dynamic sibling duo who are the co-owners of FishScale, Executive Chef H. Brandon Williams (left) and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Kristal Williams (right)

“Like many small restaurants, we have faced many challenges over the past few years,” said Dr. Kristal Williams, Chief Operating Officer, and H. Brandon Williams, Executive Chef of FishScale in Washington, D.C. “We are honored to receive this year’s Backing Historic Small Restaurants grant which will help us continue to preserve our business’ future and welcome in a new generation of customers.”

2023 “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grantees:

Carlito’s Soul Food Kitchen

Wheeling, WV

Cozy Inn Restaurant

Janesville, WI

Crown Point Restaurant

Virginia City, NV

Delgadillo’s Snow Cap

Seligman, AZ

Far East Cafe

San Francisco, CA


Washington, D.C.

Flesor’s Candy Kitchen

Tuscola, IL

Freighthouse Market & Cafe

Lyndonville, VT


Hartford, CT

Harold’s Kitchen

Richmond, VA


Mora, NM

Jeffs Red Hot

Chicago, IL

Johnny’s Victory Diner

Burrillville, RI

Kelly’s Gingernut Pub

Cape Charles, VA

Mitla Cafe

San Bernardino, CA

Mr. Powdrell’s Barbeque House

Albuquerque, NM

Pekin Noodle Parlor

Butte, MT

Pentagoet Inn & Pub

Castine, ME

Radius Brewing Company

Emporia, KS

SnoCap Drive-In

North Augusta, SC

Social Coffeehouse & Speakeasy, LLC

Leonardtown, MD

The Holly Hotel

Holly, MI

The Hungarian Pastry Shop

New York City, NY

The Treehouse

Cleveland, OH

U Drop Inn Cafe

Shamrock, TX

To learn more about the 25 historic establishments receiving “Backing Historic Small Restaurant” grants this year, please visit 

The “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” and “Backing International Small Restaurants” grant programs are funded by American Express and administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and International Downtown Association, respectively. These grant programs are part of American Express’ “Backing Small” grant initiative, which supports small business owners and entrepreneurs, and includes grant programs, mentoring support, and technical assistance.



American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpressinstagram.com/americanexpresslinkedin.com/company/american-expresstwitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

Key links to products, services and corporate sustainability information: personal cardsbusiness cards and servicestravel servicesgift cardsprepaid cardsmerchant servicesAccertifyResycorporate cardbusiness traveldiversity and inclusioncorporate sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance reports.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. SavingPlaces.org | @savingplaces

American Express has invested more than $30M to preserve historic places in the U.S. through its close partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation since 1992.


The IDA Foundation is the non-profit arm of the International Downtown Association, a Washington, D.C.-based organization empowering place management leaders with knowledge, research, and public policies for creating prosperous city centers, commercial neighborhoods and liveable urban places for all. Visit https://downtown.org/ for more information.


Elizabeth Hecht
[email protected]
American Express

Ashley Tufts
[email protected]
American Express