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American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation Launch Applications for Fourth Year of “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Program, with Funding Increasing to $2.5 Million and Double the Number of Grants Available
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Contributed By: National Trust for Historic Preservation
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American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that applications are open for the fourth installment of the “Backing Historic Small Restaurants Program.” This year, the program will award double the number of grants, with the total amount of grant funding increasing to $2.5 million from $1 million. Fifty U.S. historic small restaurants will receive $50,000 each, up from 25 restaurants in years past. The grant program is funded by American Express and administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

“Small restaurants represent the rich fabric of our culture, and are the economic engine of our communities – yet they are facing real challenges to their survival with labor shortages and rising costs,” explained Alice Lin Fabiano, VP of Community Impact at American Express. “American Express is responding to this need by doubling the number of grants offered to support 50 historic small restaurants.”

The program began four years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic to support historic restaurants that were facing dramatic losses in foot traffic and revenue. Over the years, the program has evolved to support restaurants’ longevity and growth as they seek to continue serving our communities daily. 

Restaurant owners can apply for the grant program here. Community members can also nominate their favorite restaurant here

“The National Trust understands the importance of small businesses, especially multi-generational family-owned ones, in creating vibrant communities, and we are delighted to be able to expand this work with American Express,” said Carol Quillen, President and CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Often, these businesses are centers of their communities, providing a gathering place and helping to cultivate a sense of belonging,” she added. 

Through the grant program, Resy, a hospitality technology platform that is part of the American Express family, will also offer complimentary use of Resy OS – its restaurant management software – for one year to each of the historic small restaurants selected to help streamline costs and boost restaurant operations. 

Backing Historic Small Restaurants is part of American Express’ Backing Small Initiative, focused on providing financial support and other resources to help small businesses address critical needs. The Backing Small Initiative continues to support under-resourced and economically vulnerable small business owners and entrepreneurs and includes grant programs, mentoring support, and technical assistance through established community partnerships. Following the success in the U.S., the Backing Historic Small Restaurant program has grown internationally with the “Backing International Small Restaurants” grant program. 

American Express has a long history of supporting small businesses, including Small Business Saturday, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary this fall. In 2023, American Express announced that it was providing $12.75 million in grants and support to help under-resourced small businesses build resilience to and recover from natural disasters.

Over the past three years, 75 U.S. historic restaurants have collectively received nearly $3 million through the Backing Historic Small Restaurants program. Restaurant owners used grant funds to make needed improvements to their businesses, including making essential repairs and improvements to infrastructure, expanding outdoor dining, increasing marketing and advertising, upgrading technology and digital tools, and improving accessibility. These improvements preserve historic landmarks and provide communities with better access and opportunities for connection. 

“Beyond the physical improvements, the grant has had a profound impact on our local community,” said 2023 grant recipient Donnie Lindsey, owner of Lindsey’s Hospitality and Barbeque in North Little Rock, AR. “We've not only preserved a historic landmark but also created a gathering place where community members can come together, fostering connections and a sense of belonging.” 

“Mitla Cafe has been a part of the community for over 86 years,” said 2023 grant recipient Michael Montaño, Co-owner of Mitla Cafe in San Bernardino, CA. “The positive impact isn't just from the pride of seeing the newly refreshed exterior, but also knowing that there are organizations willing to support small businesses and the people they serve.”

To be eligible for a grant, U.S. independent small restaurants must operate in historic buildings or neighborhoods, contribute to their neighborhood’s history and identity, and have a heritage story about cuisine and community in America. Formal applications and public nominations for eligible restaurants will be accepted beginning at 9:00 AM ET on March 11, 2024, through 11:59 PM ET on March 25, 2024.

Media Contacts

- Jessica Defilippo

- Elliot Carter


American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,, and

Key links to products, services and corporate responsibility information: personal cards, business cards and services, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, Accertify, Resy, corporate card, business travel, diversity and inclusion, corporate responsibility and Environmental, Social, and Governance reports.

In addition to funds provided through the Backing Historic Small Restaurants program, American Express has provided more than $30 million to preserve historic places in the U.S. through its partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation since 1993.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. | @savingplaces


Posted: March 27, 2024
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