We are pleased to announce 162 local, independent restaurants in Central and Southern California are being awarded $3,000 thanks in part to a $525,000 grant that SoCalGas made to the California Restaurant Foundation’s Restaurants Care Resilience Fund. The funds can be used towards equipment upgrades and employee retention programs. Other program sponsors include Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Wells Fargo.
One of those restaurants is Pocha LA, a modern Mexican restaurant in the Highland Park area Los Angeles. Pocha LA opened in April 2020, right at the start of the pandemic. "We are so thankful to SoCalGas for this grant. We have needed a new refrigerator in our kitchen for some time now, and with this funding, I want to upgrade it to a more energy-efficient model to better serve my customers and the planet," said Claire Risoli, owner of Pocha LA. "Additionally, I would love to award my steadfast employees with a bonus in their paycheck for their loyalty and service through these trying times. They are the heart of Pocha and I know my food is not my greatest asset, my people are."
“This partnership underscores SoCalGas' commitment to driving positive change in diverse and underserved communities across California. We have committed to investing $50 million over the next five years to help advance a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture in the communities we serve, increase access to clean energy, and accelerate our climate and air quality goals," said David Barrett, vice president and general counsel at SoCalGas and California Restaurant Foundation board member. "Independent restaurants are critical to the fabric of our communities because they contribute to culture, they foster job growth, and contribute to the economic vitality of the neighborhoods they serve.”
“Independent and locally owned restaurants are the backbone of so many communities – they welcome and accommodate our first dates, post-game celebrations and the many times we just don’t feel like cooking. They add vibrancy and uniqueness to every city, which is why the Resilience Fund is so important,” said Alycia Harshfield, Executive Director of CRF. “Restaurant owners have worked tirelessly over the last two years to keep doors open and feed their community, and we’re grateful to SoCalGas, PG&E, SDG&E and Wells Fargo for recognizing that it’s critical to continue to support and invest in local restaurants.”
“SoCalGas and the California Restaurant Fund are really making a difference in the lives of small business owners. By providing these grants, they are helping our local favorite restaurants remain open and resilient,” said City of Rancho Cucamonga Mayor Dennis Michael.
Of the 356 total grant recipients statewide, 72% of grant winners are female-owned restaurants and 83% identify as people of color owners. The average business ownership is 9.7 years, with nearly 80 restaurants operating for more than two decades. To qualify, the restaurants needed to have no more than three independent locations and not exceed $3 million in revenue. To see the full list of grant recipients please visit www.restaurantscare.org/resilience.
For more information about the California Restaurant Foundation, Restaurants Care, or the Resilience Fund, please visit www.restaurantscare.org.
Pictured on top: Pocha LA staff.
Pictured on bottom: Claire Risoli, owner of Pocha LA.