California Restaurant Foundation is offering $5K grants to help San Diego businesses. Here’s how to apply

Cynthia Ajani makes a coffee at Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessary.
Cynthia Ajani makes a coffee at Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessary, which was one of the 50 San Diego County restaurants to receive a grant from the California Restaurant Foundation’s Resilience Fund last year.
(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The California Restaurant Foundation is offering financial assistance to local food businesses for technology upgrades, equipment and worker retention. This year’s grants are bigger than previous funding rounds.


San Diego County restaurants that need to update kitchen appliances or refresh their websites can apply for a $5,000 grant from the California Restaurant Foundation.

Applications for the foundation’s Restaurants Care Resilience Fund opened on Saturday, April 15 and are due May 7, which is a Sunday.

For the third year in a row, California utility companies — San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas and Pacific Gas & Electric — have partnered with the food industry trade group to give money to help restaurants recover from the pandemic and strengthen their business infrastructure. The 2023 fund totals $2.1 million with SoCalGas contributing $1 million, the PG&E Foundation giving $900,000 and SDG&E donating $200,000.

This year, the fund is awarding larger grants that will go to 366 brick-and-mortar restaurants across the state. Alycia Harshfield, executive director of the California Restaurant Foundation, said 35 awards are allocated for San Diego County businesses.

California-based restaurant owners with no more than five locations and less than $3 million in annual revenue (combined across all locations) are eligible to apply.

The foundation’s Resilience Fund has awarded 788 grants to independent restaurants since 2021. Last year, 50 San Diego County restaurants were awarded $3,000 grants.

Those grants helped businesses buy new stoves and make kitchen equipment upgrades they might have deferred during the pandemic. It also helped businesses address staffing issues and put that money toward employee retention.

In addition to those uses, Harshfield said the foundation has added two new applications for the money.

Restaurants can put the grant toward technology adoption, such as adding a digital point-of-sale system, creating a website, investing in social media or tools for inventory control. The money can also be used for “unforeseen hardships,” including a restaurant responding to an instance of fire, flooding, burglary or vandalism.

“We are really excited about this year’s granting cycle because we’re able to move from pandemic response to really focusing on building resilience for small independent restaurants,” she said.

Eligible San Diego County restaurants must be SDG&E customers and must have been in business for at least one full year.

Restaurants that have previously received an award from this grant fund are able to reapply.

Harshfield said priority will be given to eligible businesses owned by women and people of color. Out of the nearly 800 businesses awarded grants to date, 68.5 percent were women-owned businesses and 83 percent were owned by people of color.

“Tell your local restaurants about this opportunity to be their hero and let them know that these grants are available to them,” Harshfield said. “When I’m out to eat I mention to the restaurant owner or manager that the grant application is live and available and it’s online and simple.”

To apply, visit the California Restaurant Foundation’s website at