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Sydney restaurateurs can access one of six $21,000 grants from American Express as part of its Backing International Restaurants program.

Operators of small, independent businesses can submit an application by 8 July to receive one of the grants, with the program giving “additional consideration to restaurants operated by underrepresented and/or economically vulnerable members of the community”.

2023 is the second year the program — a partnership between American Express and International Downtown Association Foundation — has run, with the first iteration focusing on The Rocks precinct in the CBD and the city part of a broader international presence that covers Mexico City, London, Tokyo, and Toronto.

“Many small restaurants that are pillars of their local community are doing it tough right now and need extra support,” says Naysla Edwards, vice president of brand, marketing and member experience, American Express Australia and New Zealand.

“This program aims to help alleviate some of the financial pressure they’re facing so that they can continue to do what they do best – deliver extraordinary food and experiences for their customers.”

The $21,000 sums are to help business owners make enhancements across their venues including boosting digital capabilities, building or revitalising dining rooms, and making other physical changes to a premises.

“We recognise the vital role that small, independent restaurants play in our communities,” says David Downey, Executive Director, IDA Foundation.

“This program is a demonstration of our commitment to supporting these businesses and helping them thrive and succeed in the wake of ongoing economic challenges worldwide.”

Businesses need to already be in operation and have a storefront to be eligible for the grant.

Applications are open until 7 July, with grants to be announced around September.