Great Streets Assists Ivy and Coney

November 29, 2013

When the owners of Ivy and Coney first set out to open their Midwest-inspired bar in Shaw, they planned for the small spot to serve only beer, Chicago-style and Detroit-style hot dogs, and a few other snacks.

When it opens in the coming months, Ivy and Coney will have built out a full kitchen, expanded its food offerings to a longer menu, and installed a deck with a retractable glass roof, doubling its occupancy. Co-owner Josh Saltzman, who is also a co-owner of Kangaroo Boxing Club, says he and his partners initially planned to staff the place themselves. But with the additions, they expect to double their revenues, meaning that Ivy and Coney should be able to hire eight additional employees.

All that work—the kitchen, the retractable roof, and other small improvements—will cost around $85,000. But private investors, who typically fund restaurants, didn’t pony up for it. Crowdfunding, which has become popular with food entrepreneurs lately, isn’t to thank either, though Ivy and Coney also raised $6,220 on Indiegogo. Instead, the money will come from taxpayers via a District government grant.

That grant is part of the Great Streets Small Business Capital Improvement Program, which the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development first launched in late 2011 with the goal of growing and supporting small businesses in underdeveloped neighborhoods, while adding new jobs.

To date, the program has awarded 65 new and existing businesses more than $4.7 million in amounts of up to $85,000 each. The grantees include everything from pet stores to yoga studios to auto repair shops, but roughly a quarter are restaurants, bars, markets, or other food ventures. The grants are not meant to incentivize businesses to open in certain locations—they must already have leases or own property—but rather to fund expansions and renovations. The money has paid for new awnings and signage, electrical and plumbing upgrades, outdoor patios, and rooftop solar panels.

SOURCE: Jessica Sidman/Young and Hungry (WCP)

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