Downtown businesses affected by the civil unrest of May 31 are eligible to receive financial assistance through DLBA’s Storefront Recovery Grant Program, thanks to donations from local benefactors and the efforts of DLBA’S Economic Development Department.

Roughly 100 Downtown businesses experienced damage that evening, ranging from graffiti and broken windows to extensive looting and fire damage. DLBA Economic Development and Policy Manager Austin Metoyer was quick to react, contacting potential donors to implement a grant program for affected establishments. The resulting Storefront Recovery Grant Program launched on June 5, enabling qualified applicants to apply online for grants of up to $1,500

Radhika Chougule, owner of Cuppa Cuppa, is one of 24 Storefront Recovery Grant recipients.

Sean Rawson, Downtown resident and Co-Founder of Waterford Property Company, was onboard immediately with a donation of $20,000. “Waterford is proud to be an anchor sponsor of the Storefront Recovery Grant Program,” Rawson said. “We believe wholeheartedly in this City and its long term growth. When the small businesses in the Downtown area were impacted by the events of the last few weeks, we wanted to show our commitment to this City and the Downtown area. We want to help those small business owners who are at the heart of this community.”

A few weeks later, Downtown-based software firm Zwift expanded the grant program with a $20,000 donation, enabling more businesses to benefit.

Grant recipient Radhika Chougule is living the dream of owning and operating her own coffee shop and cafe, Cuppa Cuppa, on the ground floor of the Cooper Arms Building on Ocean Boulevard. She has been serving gourmet coffee and healthy meals in her airy establishment for over four years, and was about to reopen under new COVID-19 guidelines. On the evening of May 31, looters threatened her dream, breaking into her shop and stealing computer tablets and other items as well as damaging her coffee brewer. Her eyes got misty as she recalled the events of that evening: “It’s still fresh to me,” she said. “It literally gives me goosebumps thinking about it.”

Chougule found out about the Storefront Recovery Grant Program a couple of days later. She contacted Metoyer, who expedited the process. Cuppa Cuppa was back up and running within a week.

“With the grant money I was able to fix my front door and cover some other basic expenses. The grant was a major help. It meant a lot to us,” said Chougule.

Anderson Paint and Hardware has been a Pine Avenue mainstay since Jack Anderson opened it in 1972. Jack retired in 1992, turning over the shop to his son Gregg. Gregg’s daughter Karissa works at the store as well, and was the one who filled out the application for the Storefront Recovery Grant after the shop was damaged on May 31.

Three generations of Andersons are pictured at Anderson Paint and Hardware: Jack, Gregg and Karissa Anderson.

As things got chaotic that evening, Gregg’s friends and neighbors rallied to protect the shop. “Without the community, we probably would have been burned down,” said Gregg. “There were huge amounts of volatile solvents on display near the front door.” Eventually, the store was broken into; a looter hurled a brick through a plate-glass window, enabling other thieves to enter the store and take gloves, spray paint, bolt cutters, and other tools. They also poured drain cleaner in the aisles and over merchandise.

Karissa found out about the Storefront Recovery Grant Program from Metoyer, who once again helped move things along quickly. With some quick glass installation and an infusion of cash from the grant 10 days later, the Andersons were able to absorb the damage and keep their business rolling. They are open for business and enthusiastic about continuing to serve the Downtown community. “My original business card motto was, ‘Serving Beautiful Downtown Long Beach,’” said Jack. “It was great when I opened, I knew it would get better; and it has.”

So far, DLBA has given out Grants to 24 Downtown businesses with a total distribution of $29,825. “We still have a lot of funding left to give,” said Metoyer. “The more we can get the word out, the more we can get people access to this funding.”