Following the return of its Backing International Small Restaurants grant program, American Express, in partnership with the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation and support of Restaurant & Catering Australia, has revealed the six winners who will be awarded $21,000 each to help boost their business.

Sydney is one of five cities globally selected to be involved in the 2023 program, alongside London, Mexico City, Tokyo and Toronto, with the grants aiming to support independent restaurant and café owners who identify as being underrepresented and/or economically vulnerable. Special consideration was also given to those who play an important role in their local community – from hiring and training displaced refugees to donating leftover goods to food banks. 

American Express vice president and general manager of consumer and commercial services, Emily Roberts said, “Sydney’s dining and hospitality industry is at the core of what makes our city so iconic, but the effects of the pandemic and the uncertain economic outlook has left many small businesses feeling vulnerable and under pressure. As part of our commitment to back small businesses, it’s imperative that we do what we can to support hard-working operators. Our hope is that these funds will allow them to continue to deliver meaningful experiences for their customers.” 

IDA Foundation executive director, David Downey said, “Our second year delivering the Backing International Small Restaurants program recognises the vital role small, independent restaurants play in our communities. The program furthers our commitment to supporting the businesses which have been selected, helping them thrive and succeed in the wake of ongoing economic challenges worldwide. It is an honour to implement this innovative work with the generous support of American Express.”

Restaurant & Catering Australia CEO, Suresh Manickam commented, “We are proud to support a local program backed by a global brand that will help invigorate some incredible local and independent restaurants and keep Sydney’s enviable hospitality industry on the global stage.”

Social enterprise restaurant, Kabul Social with two locations in Sydney’s CBD and North Sydney, was one of this year’s grant recipients. Serving Afghan street food, cooked by displaced refugees, the restaurant’s business model is based on giving back to its community. To date they’ve donated 105,696 meals to charity partners, Mahboba’s Promise and Plate it Forward, employed 13 refugees and delivered 2,500 hours of paid training and employment to Afghan refugees.  

Viand, a Thai restaurant based in Woolloomooloo was another grant recipient with owner and head chef, Annita Potter having recently been awarded Good Food Guide’s 2023 NSW Chef of the Year.

The other four establishments to receive grants of $21,000 each include: Kaska Eatery in Darlinghurst, IIKO Mazesoba in Haymarket, Food Addict in Darlinghurst and Small’s Deli in Potts Point.