As part of ongoing efforts to help local businesses, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors supported 53 businesses with funds for qualifying purchases made to upgrade outdoor seating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible businesses included restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries and tasting rooms, all of which were negatively impacted by the regulations on indoor dining to help curb the spread of the virus. Businesses that had made outdoor seating modifications, including tents and heaters, were eligible for up to $5,000 for equipment and $1,000 in fuel.
The Loudoun Is Ready Outdoor Seating Grant application process was fully executed within three weeks of approval, thanks to a collaborative effort by Loudoun Economic Development, Visit Loudoun, the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, the Loudoun Fire Marshal and the departments of Building and Development and Finance and Budget.
The Board of Supervisors allocated approximately $250,000 of remaining CARES Act funding for the program. It was the sixth business relief grant offered by the county since the health outbreak began in March and increased the county’s grant investment to nearly $11.8 million.
“This grant grew out of a need identified in the business community, and we’re very proud of the impact that this funding will have, going into the colder months ahead,” Loudoun Economic Development’s Executive Director Buddy Rizer explained. “Loudoun County has been at the forefront of responsiveness to the business community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This started with proactive outreach to thousands of businesses in the early weeks of the lockdown, which opened crucial lines of communication. Since then, Loudoun has delivered wide-ranging resources to our businesses as we’ve identified the need.”
One business that received an Outdoor Seating Grant was Bleu Frog Vineyards near Lucketts. The veteran and woman-owned business is built on farmland purchased in 2016, with grapes first planted in 2017. Over the years, Jan Kernan and her husband have poured extensive resources into a pavilion and other building renovations, anticipating the expansion of on-site tastings, weddings and other events.
That was before COVID-19 struck, leaving them to find creative solutions, including how to become an outdoor-only venue in the winter months. That led to a substantial investment in café tables, tents, gas heaters and fire pits.
The Outdoor Seating Grant will reimburse $5,000 of those expenses and help Bleu Frog keep the lights on this winter.
“We’re so thankful for Loudoun County and the Economic Development office for its empathy and efforts towards small businesses and the rural economy,” Kernan said. “This grant will help us tremendously, so we can continue service and operations during the winter months, as best as we can, without having to shut down.
“We really needed the cash flow after all of the expenditure over the last three years, so we’re very grateful for the grant.”
All recipients will be notified this week, with instructions on how to receive the grant proceeds. For a full list of grant recipients, or to see recipients from previous COVID-19 business grants, please visit LoudounBusinessFund.org.