Ten independent restaurants to share £50,000 business boost

Papas Cafe owner Valcie McIntosh

Ten independent businesses in east London will each receive a £5,000 grant as part of the Dine Local programme, run by the International Downtown Association Foundation and Brixton BID, and supported by American Express.

The grant funding will enable the 10 Brixton-based venues to make critical improvements that drive their business forward. Among the recipients is Lounge Brixton, which is supporting local artists by expanding its live performance space; Papa’s Cafe, a park-based community cafe; and Banh Banh Cafe, a family-run restaurant that plans to install new kitchen equipment for the summer.

Restaurant owner Dung Nguyen from Banh Banh Café Photos: David Parry/PA Wire

This support comes at a critical time for independent restaurants. According to research* commissioned by American Express, over half of people (56%) think independent hospitality businesses in their local area are struggling with staff shortages, while over two thirds (67%) believe the owners of these businesses are worried about their future. Encouragingly, 85% of respondents said they plan to support independent hospitality businesses this year by visiting more frequently or buying takeaway food and drink from them. Dine Local is part of American Express’ global Backing International Small Restaurants grant programme, established to support culturally significant, independent restaurants owned by individuals from underrepresented groups in major cities across the globe. The initiative seeks to highlight the importance of these venues to their communities, providing valuable financial support as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.

David Downey, Executive Director, IDA Foundation, said: “The IDA Foundation is pleased to support the recovery of these restaurants who contribute to the identity and vitality of their community. We look forward to seeing these businesses thrive once again and are inspired by their resilience which enables them to bring people of the neighbourhood together.”

Restaurant owner Clover Eziashi (left) from Lounge Brixton with Brixton BID representative, Jessica Dyer

Gianluca Rizzo, Director, Brixton BID, said: “Brixton is all about small and independent businesses. With the hospitality industry being hit hard, Dine Local was the perfect programme for Brixton, coming at a critical time for some of our restaurants. The response from our community was great as always, and I would like to congratulate the winners and encourage everyone local and new to Brixton to discover all our amazing venues and businesses.”

Dan Edelman, General Manager, UK Merchant Services at American Express, added: “After two turbulent years for the hospitality sector, it’s more important than ever to support small, independent restaurants that contribute so much to their local communities. American Express has a long history of backing small businesses, and we’re proud to be supporting these fantastic venues through the Dine Local grants. I’m looking forward to seeing these businesses put their enterprising ideas into action and thriving into the future.”

The full list of Dine Local grant recipients is:

Banh Banh Café – A casual family-run restaurant serving Vietnamese fare in homage to their grandmother, using the grant fund to install new kitchen equipment for dining in and increasing its takeaway offer
Beast of Brixton – An LGBTQIA+ friendly cafe and bar planning to renovate its indoor and outdoor dining areas, as well as introducing a wheelchair ramp
Black and White Cafe – A community staple for over 20 years, it plans to use the grant funding to refresh its interior and buy equipment ahead of the summer trading period
Etta’s Seafood Kitchen – Restaurant whose owner has lived in the area for over 40 years, with plans to introduce a new click and collect service and electric scooter for delivery, as well as contribute to community health workshops
Jalisco – A family-run Latin American inspired restaurant which employs staff from the local Latin-American community, seeking to buy equipment ahead of the summer trading period
Kamome – A casual Japanese diner which plans to update its ventilation system and purchase a new induction hob, as well as further support efforts to donate surplus food to charities
Lounge Brixton – A laid-back bar, cafe and eatery which plans to expand its support for local talent by installing a new speaker system, allowing singers and spoken word artists to perform at the venue
May Foods – Afro-Caribbean restaurant which sponsors various support programmes, with plans to refurbish its storefront and revitalise staff training, among other improvements
Papa’s Cafe – A community cafe serving in a Brixton park and playground, which plans to buy tables and chairs to improve its dining area, allowing them to host more events for children
Share a Slice – Pizzeria pop up and social enterprise with plans to restart its ‘pizza at home’ delivery kits trialled during the pandemic, as well as introducing a part-time community manager to support outreach work across the borough.

*Research conducted by Opinium with 2,000 respondents in January 2022.