PepsiCo recently announced the launch of “Dig In“, a consumer-facing platform aimed to highlight the importance of supporting Black-owned restaurants throughout the U.S. The platform will offer increased visibility, business support, training, and mentorship to restaurants.
Over the next five years, Pepsi aims to raise $100 million for local restaurants through these different support channels. The platform was formally introduced with a commercial on the NFL Network Media during playoffs, with the four restaurants 7th + Grove, Off the Bone Barbeque, The Breakfast Klub, and Kitchen Cray being highlighted.
Part of the platform that is especially relevant to restaurants’ success during the pandemic is Black Restaurants Deliver. The eight-week consultancy program is free of charge and offers assistance in developing online ordering and delivery for restaurants. A pilot of 40 restaurants in Washington D.C. was recently trialed and was enough of a success that the program will now assist 400 restaurants with these services during the next five years.
One of the first restaurants to undergo this program was Off the Bone Barbeque. Pepsi assisted the Dallas-based restaurant in increasing its online presence through an updated website, improved online ordering through the Toast TakeOut app, and marketing support. It is currently unclear if all restaurants participating in the program will go through the same exact process.
With restaurants having an incredibly challenging year in 2020 and the systematic barriers that Black-owned businesses face coming to light, restaurant accelerators and assistance programs such as this can help provide support and guidance to keep restaurants afloat. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that there was a 41% decline of black business owners from February to April in 2020, which is disproportionate compared to the 17% decrease of white-owned businesses during this same period.
Elsewhere, the Melon Kitchen Food Entrepreneurship Accelerator is opening a culinary program in mid-January for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. This particular program aims to build “pandemic proof” restaurants through the use of ghost kitchens and DoorDash delivery. The National Urban League actually partnered with PepsiCo in October 2020 to form the Black Restaurant Accelerator Program. PepsiCo provided a $10 million grant to the program in order to provide training, mentorship, capital, and other services to 500 Black-owned businesses over the next five years.