BENTON HARBOR — The popular Mason Jar Cafe may get some help to shorten lengthy wait times during peak hours.
Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Michigan Good Food Fund, the owners of the downtown Benton Harbor restaurant are considering an expansion to accommodate more customers and cook more food in the process.
“I’m kind of shocked and very thankful for it,” said Jayme Cousins, who owns the cafe alongside Abel Martinez. “I’m thankful for Stacey (Stephens) at Cornerstone Alliance for bringing my attention to it.”
Mason Jar Cafe, which opened in May 2014, can seat about 150 people at one time. Cousins said to serve more people they’ll need to build a bigger kitchen.
Known as a farm-to-table breakfast and lunch restaurant, Mason Jar Cafe has added 20 tables and about 25 more employees to keep up with the amount of demand the business has received.
Cousins said they applied for funding two months ago, which led to being chosen as one of 10 winners for the Catalytic Investment Award.
Other than Mason Jar Cafe, other winning businesses were from Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Traverse City.
The Michigan Good Food Fund – which was created to increase healthy food access and economic development – is a $30 million fund that provides financing and business assistance to good food enterprises that benefit under-served communities.
The Catalytic Investment Awards are designed to help entrepreneurs from infrastructure investments to capital expenditures.
“These 10 awards are supporting businesses that are increasing healthy food access and sparking job creation across the state, from farm to fork,” Mary Donnell, program manager of the fund, said in a news release. “In addition, they are supporting female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color – a core part of our mission.”
The fund was created in partnership with Capital Impact Partners, Fair Food Network, the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Since its launch in June 2015, it has invested more than $11 million in 28 food businesses across the state, supporting or creating more than 420 jobs.
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