Alliance for Downtown New York launches two initiatives to help businesses impacted by COVID-19

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A local Manhattan business improvement district is unveiling two new initiatives to help small businesses.

The Alliance for Downtown New York has partnered with BentoBox to assist eligible restaurants with setting up their own easy online ordering platforms. The Alliance is also partnering with Streetsense, a retail and urban-design consultancy, to provide up to 25 small businesses with one-on-one technical assistance to transform their spaces to be COVID-compliant.

Both programs are part of a continuing effort by the Alliance to support businesses that have been deeply impacted by the pandemic.

“Our program with BentoBox will eliminate the need for third-party services that eat into restaurant profits. Our local eateries, which already operate on razor-thin margins, are facing a once-in-a-generation crisis. This will empower New Yorkers to better support the local favorites that need our help,” said Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “COVID has foisted a whole new set of demands on all storefront businesses. Through consultations with Streetsense we hope to provide timely guidance for stressed entrepreneurs on everything from smart changes to their physical spaces to proper communication with customers.”

BentoBox will cover a year of services for businesses, offering a plug-and-play e-commerce experience that can be customized for each business and allows them to take orders without the use of other third-party apps. To apply to the Restaurant Online Ordering Program with BentoBox, eligible restaurants are those with gross annual revenues of less than $3 million and fewer than 30 full-time-equivalent employees as of Oct. 1, 2020. Eligible restaurants must also be located south of Chambers Street and the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, and excludes national chains, franchises and businesses that have more than five locations in New York City.  

Applications are due at 5 p.m. on Aug. 14 and will be accepted first-come, first-served basis. Apply for the program at www.downtownny.com.

“BentoBox is proud to partner with the Downtown Alliance and support Lower Manhattan restaurants with our direct online ordering solution,” said Krystle Mobayeni, co-founder and CEO of BentoBox. “We are thrilled to align with a like-minded, mission-driven organization that helps restaurants drive revenue and connect with diners during COVID and beyond.” 

To apply for Streetsense, small businesses (as defined in the BentoBox rules) must be operating and located within the boundaries of the Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District in New York City, roughly from Murray Street to the Battery and South Street to West Street (more specifically delineated here). The program also excludes national chains, franchises and businesses that have more than five locations in New York City. An eligible essential small business is required to have a current lease, or an option to renew, for a ground-floor storefront business within the Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District through Dec. 31, 2020. 

The application page for Streetsense will go live on downtownny.com on Aug. 10. Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until 25 eligible businesses have been accepted, and consultations with Streetsense will take place between August and October 2020.

In addition to working with 25 businesses to make their spaces COVID-compliant, StreetSense will also produce two Readiness Guidelines, one for restaurants and the other for retailers. Both of the toolkits, which will be available on Aug. 14, will be accompanied by two 60-minute webinars and will be made available to all Lower Manhattan businesses for free. A webinar to discuss the restaurant and bar tool kit will be live Thursday, August 20, followed by the retail webinar on Friday, August 21.  

“We are honored to help the Downtown Alliance build a tool kit with a combination of practical guidance and ready-to-use tools that will help local businesses navigate a rapidly changing retail landscape,” said Brian Taff, CEO of Streetsense. “This important project will directly benefit retailers and restaurateurs in one of the most important global financial districts in the world, and we are excited for the opportunity to be a part of it.”