American Express is expanding its Backing International Small Restaurants grant program, with venues in Melbourne now eligible to apply in addition to Sydney.

Run in partnership with the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation and supported by Mainstreet Australia, small restaurant owners are being invited to apply for one of 10 grants each valued at $21,500 to put towards expenses or improving their business.

In its first two years in Australia, Backing International Small Restaurants has provided $240,000 in financial support. The program, founded by American Express, recognises the challenges small dining venues face in the current economic climate with special consideration given for restaurants operated by underrepresented and/or economically vulnerable community members.

American Express Australia and New Zealand vice president of global merchant network services, Robert Tedesco said, “Small independently run restaurants are at the heart of our communities and local economies. Many are struggling with the fallout of cost-of-living pressures and need support. It’s why this year we have expanded the program to Melbourne for the first time, in addition to Sydney.

“We’re lucky to have one of the best dining scenes in the world and we want to see it remain vibrant. The majority of small restaurants are family operated, so these grants will help venues keep growing and serving their communities, while protecting their legacy for future generations.”

IDA Foundation president and CEO, David Downey added, “We’re excited to be partnering with American Express again for the third year of the Backing International Small Restaurants program. This year’s expansion to nine global cities demonstrates our shared commitment to boosting long-term sustainability for culturally significant and independent restaurants.

“By increasing the grant amount, we can provide even greater support to these businesses, empowering them to thrive and continue to be cultural cornerstones within their communities.”

All small independent restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne are encouraged to apply. Applications are now open until Friday 31 May 2024 at 14:00 AEST.

To learn more about Backing International Small Restaurants, including eligibility and to apply, visit