DoorDash awarded Corner Café Newton $20,000 as part of the delivery service’s Main Street Strong program, created to support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Corner Café Newton has really struggled during the pandemic,” said Chris Thigpen, the café’s owner. “So what the grant means for us, basically, it helps us play catch-up.”
DoorDash’s program awards 100 restaurants located in five U.S. cities $20,000 grants and a curriculum program for owners to develop new skills, according to a post on its website.
The Corner Café Newton, located at 321 Washington Street, has been serving Newton residents breakfast and lunch for over 55 years.
Thigpen has owned the café since 2019. As a new business owner, he said he has faced many challenges during the pandemic.
The business owner said he had to adapt after customers who visited the café on their lunch breaks started working from home in March 2020.
“We sit in a little office district,” Thigpen said. “When the pandemic hit, nobody came to the office, which was pretty terrifying for a new business owner.”
Thigpen said he took advantage of delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The services, he said, help new customers find out about the business.
“The cool thing about … this little business is that [the pandemic] has forced us to go out and get new clients,” he said.
When Thigpen first heard about DoorDash’s grant program, he took action.
“I work with DoorDash and UberEATS and Grubhub now, and [the Main Street Strong program application] came across the wire,” Thigpen said. “You create a profile and then you answer a bunch of questions about … the effects of COVID on your business.”
With fewer in-person customers, Thigpen said he has adjusted his business strategies in addition to utilizing delivery apps.
“Because foot traffic has been so low, I’ve really tried to get more catering orders—breakfast and lunch catering, sort of corporate delivery stuff,” Thigpen said.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Thigpen said he remains confident in Corner Café Newton. He said the Main Street Strong program has been a source of energy and optimism.
“Having that kind of as a buffer is amazing because it allows you to not be terrified and to … put one foot in front of the other, keep showing up, doing the thing, knowing that it will get better,” Thigpen said. “And I’m confident it will get better.”
Featured Graphic by Liz Schwab / Heights Editor