LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today announced the launch of the company's Restaurant Recovery Program, which aims to assist Black-owned restaurants in both Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will be administered by the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC), a community-based organization that provides economic opportunities for prosperity by infusing resources into neighborhoods that need support the most. The Restaurant Recovery Program was announced in conjunction with Los AngelesBlack Restaurant Week, of which SoCalGas is a proud sponsor. Black Restaurant Week is part of a larger, ongoing effort to support Black-owned businesses in the Los Angeles area.
"Black restaurant owners suffer disproportionately from the ills of this pandemic," said VSEDC's President & CEO Joseph T. Rouzan III. "This critical infusion of capital allows restaurateurs to make vital upgrades to help stay afloat during these challenging times."
"As our nation faces the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to support business owners in the communities we serve. The Restaurant Recovery Program will provide some relief to Black-owned restaurant owners struggling during this time," said Trisha Muse, director of community relations at SoCalGas. "We are also pleased to support Black Restaurant Week Los Angeles. This is a wonderful way to celebrate and support Black-owned businesses in our community and we look forward to participating."
Awarded to restaurants including Watts Coffee House, Hot and Cool Cafe, Post and Beam, and Pip's on La Brea, the grants range from $1,000 to $5,000 and can be used for payroll assistance, sanitizing and personal protective equipment, plexiglass, energy efficiency upgrades or repairs, energy audits and more. The Restaurant Recovery Program runs through the end of the year or until funds are depleted.
"It is with warm appreciation that 27th Street Bakery would like to thank Southern California Gas Company for their generous grant offering," said Jeanette Bolden-Pickens, owner of 27th Street Bakery. "As a family owned business serving the community since 1956, this grant will have an immediate impact. Your generosity will help us to purchase shrink wrap equipment which will help create a healthier environment in this time of COVID-19. We appreciate Southern California Gas Company and VSEDC for their efforts in keeping 27th Street Bakery a 'sweet' spot in the local community."
"VSEDC has been fundamental to the economic navigation in South LA," said John Cleveland, owner of Post and Beam. "We are grateful for the opportunity to meet the challenge of supporting and uplifting our community. Post & Beam plays a significant role in the South Los Angeles community that we intend to uphold. It has been a challenge to prepare for a safe and sustainable outdoor dining environment. We intend to use the funds provided by the SoCalGas/VSEDC recovery grant to provide this much needed experience to our community."
SoCalGas announced the program in conjunction with Black Restaurant Week in Los Angeles, August 7-16. SoCalGas is the presenting sponsor of the week-long event. The company will participate in the Aroma Culinary Panel Discussion by way of VSEDC's President and CEO, Joe Rouzan on August 18.
"In these uncertain times we want to give small businesses an economic boost while raising their visibility in the greater Los Angeles area. They have been a part of the local fabric of this city and it is important that they have a platform to continue to succeed," said Warren Luckett, founder of Black Restaurant Week.
Founded in 2016, Black Restaurant Week® is dedicated to celebrating the flavors of African-American, African, and Caribbean cuisine nationwide. Through a series of events and promotional campaigns, Black Restaurant Week's culinary initiatives help introduce culinary businesses and culinary professionals to the community.
Ninety-six percent of professional chefs prefer natural gas for safe, reliable and cost-efficient operations. As California aims to become carbon neutral by 2045, SoCalGas will continue to provide, reliable, affordable and increasingly renewable gas to business owners and residents alike. Last year, SoCalGas announced its vision to become the cleanest gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. The utility has set goal of replacing 20% of the gas it supplies to residential and most commercial customers with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. SoCalGas is also pursuing research into renewable hydrogen.
SoCalGas COVID-19 Response
SoCalGas has donated more than $2.5 million to nonprofit organizations for COVID-19 recovery efforts, including supporting the region's workforce, feeding the hungry, providing bill assistance to customers, and more.
Together, the Sempra Energy family of companies – including SoCalGas's sister California utility San Diego Gas and Electric, and the Sempra Energy Foundation – have donated more than $12.5 million to those in need during this crisis.
About Black Restaurant Week Black Restaurant Week LLC is an annual, multi-city culinary movement celebrating the flavors of African, African-American and Caribbean cuisine nationwide. Black Restaurant Week partners with black-owned restaurants, chefs, caterers and food trucks to host a selection of culinary experiences aimed to expand awareness and increase support for black culinary professionals. The organization was founded in 2016 by entrepreneurs Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell and Derek Robinson. Connect with Black Restaurant Week on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
About VSEDC For nearly four decades, VSEDC has facilitated community development of the South Los Angeles area by providing programs that revitalize the physical, economic, and social life of the community. A newly-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), VSEDC has developed and implemented a comprehensive approach to community economic development that includes business development, access to capital, technical assistance and training, residential housing, commercial, and industrial development.
About SoCalGas Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable gas service to 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Gas delivered through the company's pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians— about 45 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants. SoCalGas's vision is to be the cleanest gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. In support of that vision, SoCalGas is committed to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its gas delivery infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2014 through 2018, the company invested nearly $6.5 billion to upgrade and modernize its pipeline system to enhance safety and reliability. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.