Local restaurants, bars eligible to receive $1,000 grants based on community recommendations via unique receipt program

Fort Mitchell, KY – In the wake of one of the most challenging economic periods in modern history, many industries – and restaurants in particular – are facing extremely tough times. Now, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, BE NKY and Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky have partnered to provide local eateries the opportunity to enjoy some much needed relief – and they’re looking for suggestions in deciding who to help.

Launching Wednesday, April 8, 2020 is the “NKY Restaurant Relief Fund,” a first-of-its-kind stimulus program which will grant $1,000 to select local restaurants.

The program will work as follows: After purchasing a $50 minimum gift card to any qualifying Northern Kentucky restaurant or bar, an individual or business can then upload a copy of their receipt, address and contact information to the Restaurant Relief Fund website. This will then automatically nominate the restaurant for one of ten $1,000 grants that will be awarded weekly.

The grant recipients will be chosen via a random drawing. Restaurants and bars will receive an entry for each receipt uploaded, and a selected restaurant/bar can only receive a grant once. Restaurants must be locally-owned and -operated to be eligible.

Initially, ten grants will be awarded on Thursday, April 16 and again on Thursday, April 23, during the NKY Chamber’s weekly podcast, Northern Kentucky Spotlight with Kathrine Nero. BE NKY President and CEO Lee Crume, Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson and NKY Chamber President and CEO Brent Cooper will join Nero to announce the 10 Northern Kentucky restaurants and bars receiving the grants (as long as funds last).

Horizon Community Funds will act as the 501(c)(3) organization receiving all donated funds with BE NKY assisting and serving as the program’s administrator. The NKY Chamber will lead the fundraising effort for the NKY Restaurant Relief Fund. The fund seeks to raise a minimum of $20,000 and in excess of $50,000 through donations from businesses and individuals during the next two weeks. Direct contributions to the fund can also be made by visiting Horizon Community Funds’ website, www.horizonfunds.org.

Cooper hopes the entire Northern Kentucky region will embrace the program, and in doing so, show the strength and compassion that will help local restaurants persevere.

Brent Cooper, NKY Chamber President & CEO


“A time of unprecedented hardship calls for an unprecedented response. With the NKY Restaurant Relief Fund, we call on all residents and businesses of the region that are able to showcase the Team Kentucky spirit that makes us unique,” said Cooper. “The Chamber’s number one goal is to support strong businesses. Now, the time has come to show how strong our region is by extending that same courtesy to our restaurant partners.”

Lee Crume, President & CEO of BE NKYCrume and Grayson agree.

“The NKY Restaurant Relief grants are meant to bring a quick infusion of cash to restaurants and bars through gift card purchases and the twenty $1,000 grants we’ll award over the next two weeks,” shared Lee Crume, President & CEO of BE NKY. “We know these small businesses have suffered tremendously and we want to provide hope and funds to these entrepreneurs.”


“The NKY Restaurant Relief effort is another way for our community to help make a Nancy Grayson Horizon Community Fundsdifference during these challenging times,” said Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson. “Our local restaurants not only provide us with food, but places to do business, celebrate special occasions and create lasting memories. Now, we can thank them by showing the legacy of our community is how we help our family and friends in their greatest time of need.”


Bill Whitlow, owner of Rich’s Proper Food and Drink with his wife Morgan, find the announcement of the fund inspired.

“We appreciate everything that the NKY Chamber and others have done for businesses in the region. Every dollar that comes in helps us stay open, keep our employees working and keep the vibe alive,” Whitlow said. “We’re all coming together, we’re all helping each other. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

To submit a receipt and nominate a restaurant, or for more information, visit nkychamber.com/nkyrestaurantrelief.


Additional Supporting Quotes:

Agave & Rye

“The COVID-19 crisis has hurt so many entrepreneurs across the nation, with restaurants and bars being one of the first industries impacted. For servers and bartenders, tips are now not available, which can be extremely crippling,” shares Yavonne Sarber, Founder of Agave & Rye. “As a restaurant owner, it’s heartbreaking to experience. For our own team, it was clear: if we weren’t able to serve guests in our restaurants, we had to do something… and, despite the challenges so many of us are facing, we’ve found unique ways to band together, reach out to the community and encourage others to do the same. Most recently, our carry out availability has brought hope back to our team, as well as our team back to the community!” 

Blinker’s Tavern

“Gift cards have been a way for us to keep in touch with our customers, we love seeing their names come through,” shared Sandy Meyer, Blinker’s Tavern. “It’s the way we’re staying connected. Every bit helps.”

The Farmstand Market & Café

“Gift cards have kept us afloat during these trying times and helped us make sure we could make payroll,” said Fran Kusala, The Farmstand Market & Café. “We appreciate what they’ve done so far and we hope their generosity continues. Our gift cards are available online but we mail them out the old-fashioned way – so there may be a delay in customers receiving them.”


About the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce: The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Inc., founded in 1969, is the leading business organization in Northern Kentucky with more than 1,600-member companies representing approximately 175,000 employees. The NKY Chamber strives to promote and support the development of strong businesses and a vibrant economy in the Northern Kentucky region, through leadership and advocacy, resulting in a better quality of life for all. Dan Cahill, CEO of HSD Metrics, is the Chair of the Board and Brent Cooper is the President and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Additional information on the NKY Chamber is available at www.nkychamber.com.

About the BE NKY: BE NKY serves as the primary economic development entity for Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, providing marketing, business retention/expansion and entrepreneurship services for the region. BE NKY’s mission is to generate, preserve and enhance high quality economic opportunities for Northern Kentucky and support development of the region’s business operating environment.

About Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky: Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky is a qualified public charitable 501(c)(3) organization established as a community foundation in 2017 by Northern Kentucky leaders. Its mission is to unite resources to raise the quality of life for all people in the Northern Kentucky community. Learn more at www.horizonfunds.org.