By Laguna Beach Independent Staff
In December, the Laguna Beach City Council approved the $850,000 Grant Program, LB CARES, from City reserves to assist restaurants, bars and retail businesses experiencing impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program provided direct financial assistance to these businesses and organizations by offering a $5,000 grant per qualifying restaurant or bar and $2,000-$3,000 grant per qualifying retailer, on a first-come, first-served, basis.
On Jan. 8, 75 Laguna Beach restaurants and 82 Laguna Beach retailers received assistance checks totaling $575,000 from the City of Laguna Beach through the program.
“Our City staff is to be congratulated for implementing this program in record time and getting checks to our local restaurants and businesses in less than three weeks’ time from the Council’s approval,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. “To distribute nearly $600,000 to over 150 local businesses provides a much-needed boost to our local economy. We will continue to process applications and more businesses will benefit in round two.”
“The whole pandemic has been really tough for local businesses, and the fact that Laguna Beach is doing what they are doing with this grant program to help the small businesses in town is amazing,” said LB Cares Grant recipient Brandon Ferguson, owner of The Den Barbershop and Shave Parlor. “It will help us with catching up on bills so I can get caught up and back on track to where we were before the whole thing kind of hit us. Every little bit helps and the fact we were awarded the grant I couldn’t be more thankful.”
LB CARES has been extended to Jan. 19 for restaurants and bars only experiencing impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. LB CARES grant applications for restaurants and bars will be accepted until Jan. 19, 2021 at 5 p.m. Grants will be awarded up to the funding amount of $650,000 on a first-come, first-served, basis. Go to www.lagunabeachcity.net/LBCares for program details, eligibility restrictions and to apply. Restaurant and bar applications will be notified after the Jan. 19 deadline closes. The City Council may consider reallocating any unawarded LB CARES funding during their upcoming Jan. 26, 2021 meeting.
“What the City gave us was amazing, that they were able to put this together,” said LB Cares Grant recipient Chef Lindsay Smith of Nirvana Grille. “It gave us that little breather, as a lot of us in town are struggling right now.”
“It’s really a special program and it is great that the City of Laguna Beach did this for local businesses,” said LB Cares Grant recipient Sun Park, General Manager of Heidelberg Cafe. “It is very helpful for a small business like us, and I am thankful for that.”
In conjunction with LB CARES, the City of Laguna Beach has also established the Laguna Beach Business Assistance Services Program. This new program is being established to help local businesses and non-profits access available resources offered by state, federal, and county government, help determine the best resources to meet each business’ unique circumstance, and to help businesses with the process of preparing and submitting applications.