Announcing The Chase Sapphire Supports Restaurants $50,000 Grant Winners
Produced by The Infatuation with
Recently, we asked readers to nominate the restaurants that were there for them and their communities through the past year. The places that pivoted, set up outdoor dining in the street, fed essential workers, and more. We were overwhelmed with incredible nominations and are proud to announce the 20 restaurants across the US that have received $50,000 business grants, courtesy of Chase Sapphire and The Infatuation. Meet the winners and read their stories about how they ran restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Husband and wife Amy Le and John Keebler opened the first Saucy Porka in 2013, wanting the Chicago restaurant to be the home where their memories and experiences of cooking and family lived. In putting together the menu, chef Le teamed up with former colleague chef Rafel Lopez, to pay homage to the home-style cooking rooted in their Latin and Asian cultures.
Casa Índígō is the creation of Chef Mer Mansuria, whose background includes experience in some of the best kitchens in Chicago including Girl and the Goat, Little Goat, Caffe Baci Corp., Duseks, and more. Casa Índígō serves great food at affordable prices, with the majority of ingredients sourced from local farms, bakeries, and tortillerias. The restaurant also displays and sells local artwork and has monthly local artist showcases on the second Friday of most months.
Founded by Robert Magiet, TaKorea Cocina is a Mexican-Korean fusion restaurant that’s been serving Chicagoans since 2019. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robert continued to display an unwavering commitment to his community and a devotion to helping others. TaKorea Cocina donated over 10,000 Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners for first responders and underprivileged communities, and provided meals to Army volunteers at the city’s United Center vaccination site.
Kindred is a neighborhood restaurant in the East Village serving handmade pasta, cocktails, and natural wine. Everything at Kindred is inspired by the Adriatic, stretching along the trade route of the former Venetian Republic from Italy to Crete. Kindred is the second venture from the people behind Ruffian Wine Bar.
NYC’s Atoboy in Flatiron offers guests an approachable banchan-inspired tasting menu, and since opening in 2016 has quickly earned its spot as one of the leaders of the city’s New Korean cuisine movement. The restaurant is also an active member of the NYC community, participating in non-profit collaborations and educational programming for the industry.
Caracas Arepa Bar is devoted to the pleasure of homemade Venezuelan food. What began as a small arepa store front in the East Village has paved the path to a full service Williamsburg, Brooklyn restaurant, and a beachside arepa outpost in Rockaway Beach, Queens. Caracas Arepa Bar is only possible thanks to the dedication of its team lead by native Venezuelans, Maribel Araujo and Aristides Barrios.
After a 15+ year corporate career, Elliot Mosby acquired the Montclair Diner in Montclair, NJ in 2019. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Eliot provided over 2500 meals to frontline workers in Black & Brown communities, helped donate over 1,000 backpacks and school supplies, and continues to partner with local organizations to feed the homeless. Elliot is proud to say he and his team survived the pandemic because of their agility, and support of the local community.
Verrilli’s Bakery was started in 1898 by Italian immigrants Leonardo and Antonia Verrilli, and was originally in the basement of their home. In the early 1950’s, the Verrilli children found a new location on Martin Luther King Ave in Morristown, NJ and the business was sold to current owner Kristi Dimogerodakis’ father in 1988. From breakfast to prepared foods, freshly made potato donuts, and the best rice pudding in town, Kristi is blessed to continue the journey in Morristown and bring her business into the next generation.
At the Bay Area’s El Pípila, Guadalupe Guerrero and her two daughters Brenda & Alejandra serve authentic, artisanal cuisine from the state of Guanajuato, the heart of Mexico. Growing up in Mexico, Lupe was fascinated and inspired by the flavors of her hometown of Acámbaro, and her culinary knowledge and skills are a family tradition. Today, she thoughtfully and carefully prepares meals with the same ingredients used by her grandmother.
Café Maison in Dana Point is a full-service restaurant and market featuring breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus grab-and-go items, and is dedicated to Chef Danielle Kuhn’s vision of bringing exceptional service to the food revolution. Cafe Maison’s dine-in menu is created around items that satisfy hunger, support health, and leave diners happy. Their wine list has been curated from vineyards from around the world that are biodynamic, sustainable, organic, and tasty, and leave as little of a footprint on the planet as possible.
South LA Cafe is a community coffee shop, market, and cultural center located in the heart of South Central Los Angeles. The South LA Cafe team exists to serve the community, fight racial and economic inequality, and provide equal access to food. In the face of COVID-19 and heightened food insecurity, husband and wife duo Joe & Celia Ward-Wallace deepened their commitment to care for their community with a weekly free food distribution.
All Day Baby is a restaurant, bakery, and cocktail bar with the soul of a diner, opened in 2019 in Silver Lake by Chef Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta. Their second restaurant together, All Day Baby illuminates their childhood ties with Southern food & hospitality, coupled with a touch of SoCal-Mexican flair.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tucson’s Feast has been keeping its staff employed by sending meals to frontline workers, first responders, people experiencing homelessness, and other members of the community who need food, recognition, or both. Feast is now reopened for dine-in but continues to support different organizations every other week, donating 20 meals for every 80 donated by members of the community.
With locations in the historic Shaw and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods of Washington, DC, Beau Thai serves traditional, made-from-scratch, and tasty Thai cuisine. Beautiful, bright interiors feature murals of the founder’s vintage family photographs from Thailand, oversized subway tiles, and colorful wood accents. Since opening in 2010, the restaurant has supported countless community causes through fundraisers, events, and donations.
Uncommon Market in Beeville, TX includes concepts Coffee Barrel, Uncommon Table, and Atomic Bakery, where founder Dr. Dhaval Patel and his team curate epicurean experiences based on living and traveling abroad. Their philosophy highlights fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and sustainable cuisine with a “farm to table” approach. Through innovative culinary experiences, the Uncommon Market community unites under their vision for local impact in education, healthcare, economic livelihood, and environment through 11 community programs.
Hugs Café in McKinney, Texas is the flagship program of Hugs Café, Inc. where they directly employ adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a café setting. Hugs Café serves soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts that are all prepared by their special staff. Hugs Café believes in carving a job to meet a person’s ability, so every teammate at Hugs Café has a position tailored to their skills that allows them to feel confident in their work and be productive every day.
Christine Staley became a Minot, South Dakota transplant after relocating from Miami Beach with her husband and three-year-old in 2013 to pursue her love of food and unite her passion for people and entertainment. The build-your-own hoagie-style sandwich shop freshly slices their premium meats & cheeses to order, with loads of hand-chopped veggies and unique toppings, finished with one (or more) of their 21 zippy sauces.
From husband and wife duo Jamie and Scott Hersch, Munch is located outside of Cleveland and emphasizes fresh, wholesome food prepared the same day. The restaurant’s small kitchen means Munch buys daily, stays local, and keeps offerings super fresh. While offering a menu suitable for vegans and vegetarians, the restaurant boasts daily, house-made meat offerings like the off-the-bone turkey and baked chicken, which are roasted in-house and are preservative- and nitrate-free.
Choplin’s Restaurant opened its doors in 2010, fulfilling Wes Choplin’s lifelong dream of owning a fresh local eatery in his home state of North Carolina. Chef Wes has high standards for each aspect of the restaurant business and purchases fresh produce and spices from North Carolina farmers. The menu features East Coast seafood caught from the Gulf Stream to the North Atlantic.
Lilo’s Streetfood and Bar is known for their fresh and interesting menu and is a Lake Worth Beach favorite destination. The restaurant includes a street cafe, live music, comfortable outdoor seating, and a huge craft beer selection. Inspired by the beach culture and ethnicity of coastal Florida, Lilo’s serves upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment.