Announcing the Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis Accelerator for Local Restaurants: Live and Local Series

We’re proud to announce a call for applications in the Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, MN areas for the Accelerator for Local Restaurants: Live & Local Series.

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Since its launch, the Accelerator for Local Restaurants has helped more than 1,000 entrepreneurs learn the skills they need to help their small businesses grow. 

We’re proud to announce a call for applications in the Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, MN areas for the next phase of this work: the Accelerator for Local Restaurants: Live & Local Series. 

This year, food trucks, food stalls, and community kitchen-based businesses are encouraged to apply, in addition to restaurants operating out of brick-and-mortar locations. Participating businesses will experience tailored programming hosted by our program partner, Bridge for Billions, and local partners including Hospitality Minnesota, Pimento Relief Services, the Greater Washington Urban League, and DMV Black Restaurant Week

Derrick Lopez, Executive Chef and Owner of the Freakin Rican brand and 2023 Accelerator participant, credits the Accelerator for giving his business the tools it needed to evolve and thrive: “Without it, the business wouldn’t have survived.”

Henry Mates of Caridad Restaurant in New York City leveraged the Accelerator to create new products and offerings for his customers: "Participating in DoorDash's 2023 Accelerator for Local Restaurants helped us grow our business by paying some of the debt we carry and allowing us to experiment with different revenue streams, such as bottling some of our sauces for sale. Another way we're working to get more profitable is by launching a new revenue stream through serving liquor and implementing a marketing strategy around it. The grants and lessons we learned during our time in the cohort have helped strengthen our business and have made us less dependent on food as our primary source of income.”

As restaurant owners face heightened economic pressures, diversifying revenue streams is crucial to ensuring that businesses don’t rely on one standout product alone. According to research by Square, 77% of restaurants plan to expand in the coming year by adding non-core offerings like meal kits, subscriptions, events, or merchandise. 

Building on our mission to empower local economies and businesses of all sizes, the Accelerator for Local Restaurants: Live and Local Series will help up to 40 selected business owners in the Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, MN areas accomplish two key goals: 

  1. Helping local businesses create new and reliable revenue streams – We’re excited to guide participants through the process of identifying new lines of business, marketing opportunities, and innovations that can set them apart and drive long-term success. Each educational event will highlight a different revenue diversification strategy, offering interactive and hands-on opportunities to develop plans to launch new revenue streams. Participants will also receive a grant of $5,000 to help implement the strategies they learn throughout the program.

  2. Providing Accelerator participants with tools to deepen connections to their community – We’re excited to help business owners build a strong and resilient business network. Over 5 months, participants will have personalized support and guidance, work one-on-one with a mentor, and  benefit from membership to select business support organizations, providing them with additional opportunities for growth and collaboration. 

To apply, applicants must plan to introduce a new line of revenue to their business, have been in business for more than two years with three locations or less, and employ fewer than 50 people per location. Washington, D.C. area applicants must be located in Washington, D.C., Fairfax County, Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland. Minneapolis area applicants must be located in Minneapolis or St. Paul. The program will begin in mid-May and will include a combination of in-person and online learning opportunities. Applications are open until May 1, 2024. APPLY HERE.

“Bridge for Billions is excited to partner with DoorDash for this unique, new program designed specifically to support merchants to diversify their income. Through local networking events, 1-on-1 mentorship, customized curriculum and entrepreneurship methodology, as well as a $5,000 grant, this program aims to provide merchants with crucial resources and support to launch their new revenue streams,” said Stephanie Esprester, Program Manager, Bridge for Billions. “We hope this program generates and encourages growth, collaboration and innovation within the merchants’ communities in Minneapolis, MN and Washington D.C., generating a positive impact for all involved.” 

We’re excited to welcome the newest cohort of the Accelerator soon and continue empowering small businesses through this work.