Three Black-owned Memphis restaurants receive $25,000 grants from Discover

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The credit card company Discover is handing out $25,000 grants to help restaurants around the country through the pandemic, and three of those businesses are right here in Memphis.

The Four Way Grill in South Memphis has been doling out dishes since the 1940s. But in the face of COVID the usually crowded dining area is now empty. No dine in. Only take out three days a week.

“It’s my prayers that the numbers in Memphis go down so we can open up for dine in,” said owner Patrice Bates Thompson.

When a friend called Thompson and asked if she knew of a business in need of help, Thompson started naming other businesses.

But that friend nominated Four Way Grill, and they won the $25,000.

“It is gonna help us meet the needs we have to do for our daily operations. And it’s truly been a blessing,” Thompson said.

Discover is giving money to 200 small Black businesses across the country through Discover Eat It Forward. The company made the move after saying from February to April, 41% of 1,000 Black-owned restaurants shut down in the face of COVID-19.

“That’s why we created it, the Eat It Forward program,” said Kelly Megel, Discover’s Vice President of Brand Media. “This was $5 million to Black-owned restaurants to encourage people to nominate their favorite restaurant for a chance to win $25,000. That’s 200 local restaurants that we could help support and impact.”

Memphis food truck Smurfy’s Smokehouse also received $25,000.

“I didn’t believe it until I got that check in the mail,” said owner Kendrick Westbrook. “I was grateful. I was blessed.”  

More customers are coming in the face of COVID-19.

“Since they aren’t eating in a restaurant, they still get the good food home cooked feeling without going into a restaurant,” Westbrook said.

Westbrook is already thinking about how he can use the $25,000 to help others.

“We are gonna feed some hungry people Sunday down at Morris Park, then we gonna try to save and boost the business up,” Westbrook said.

The third Memphis business getting the award is the catering service Meals For You, which offers daily home cooked meals for pickup and delivery.

Businesses are getting a boost at a time when they need it.

“COVID can ruin a lot of businesses,” Thompson said. “I am so very grateful for discover paying it forward and giving restaurants these opportunities to get this money.”

The $25,000 grants will continue to be handed out through October 31. You can go to Discover’s social media pages and nominate your favorite Black-owned restaurant.

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