Qualifying businesses will receive $6,000, starting October 1.

To relieve struggling businesses during the pandemic, D.C.'s Office of Nightlife and Culture just introduced a $4 million grant program to prepare for the cold months ahead.

Beginning September 21, local retailers can apply for the "Streatery Winter Ready Grant Program," which will give $6,000 to businesses operating outdoor dining spaces during the winter season. The money covers expenses such as buying or renting tents, heaters, propane, furniture, and marketing materials.

The program is intended for local eateries and non-food establishments, and businesses with temporary or permanent Sidewalk Cafe Permits are elligible, as are those with liquor licenses.

So how exactly does this program work? To qualify, businesses must possess at least one of the following criteria: 50 percent of employees are D.C. residents, 50 percent of total profits are made in D.C., and 50 percent of the business is owned/run by D.C. residents.

Of all the industries affected by COVID-19, retail and food services have faced unique financial strain. Despite restaurants being able to offer contactless service methods like takeout, the specter of shuttering has loomed with the implementation of temporary closures and public health restrictions. D.C. landmarks like Fado's Irish Pub in Chinatown closed their doors in April, while seven Hilton Brothers nightlife spots around the District's U Street Corridor are on their way out, including El Rey and The Gibson.

This isn't the first time D.C. has provided pandemic relief to local establishments—So far the District has spent $1 billion in COVID-19 relief. Of that, Mayor Muriel Bowser has spent $33 million in business grants, but she believes a federal response is needed to keep local business owners and their employees afloat during an unprecedented time.

“We know we won’t be able to locally fill all of those gaps, and that’s why having real federal stimulus and sustained federal stimulus is what our businesses are going to need to hold on and keep their employees employed but also to come back, and that’s why we’ve been very focused on the federal government coming through with another CARES package that would provide that type of economic stimulus," she remarked at a recent press conference.

Businesses will start receiving funds on October 1, where they will continue on a rolling basis. In addition, business owners will also need to provide an expenditure report by the end of November.

If you are interested in the program, you can find out more here and contact [email protected] for any additional inquiries.

D.C. residents, what do you think of this grant program? Any business owners planning to apply? Join the discussion in the comments!