Montclair’s Ray’s Luncheonette Eatery Wins $40,000 Grant from American Express

American Express announced Wednesday that Ray’s Luncheonette is a winner of a $40,000 grant.

Ray’s Luncheonette is one of 25 historic and culturally significant restaurants in the U.S. owned by underrepresented groups that will receive funding through the “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” Grant Program.

Each restaurant will receive $40,000 in grants funded by American Express and administered by the National Trust. The National Trust will also provide technical assistance to support the use of the grant funds.

The funding will help each restaurant enhance restaurant exteriors, build new outdoor seating areas, and upgrade online businesses to help mitigate operating costs as they work to recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic.

The 25 historic and culturally significant restaurants in the U.S. were selected by American Express, in partnership with the National Trust, with input from a chef advisory committee assembled by Resy including chefs Deborah VanTrece, Edouardo Jordan, and Kwame Onwuachi.

As part of the grant program, American Express’ partners will also provide support to these historic small restaurants in areas their businesses need most.

“I’m thankful to American Express for the way they consistently back small businesses all over America and especially in Montclair,” says Montclair Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis, who previously worked at American Express.

When his former colleagues at Amex announced this program, Yacobellis reached out to Fourth Ward Councilor David Cummings to help identify a restaurant in Montclair for this award. After reviewing the criteria, Cummings suggested a few places including Ray’s Luncheonette. Yacobellis then went to former running mate, James Cotter, who had a longstanding relationship with the owners of Ray’s, to discuss applying.

“Much deserved congratulations to Ray’s Luncheonette for being such a staple of our small business community and to Councilor David Cummings and community leader James Cotter for their help,” Yacobellis adds. “I’m certain this grant will go a long way.”

Last year, for Small Business Saturday, Yacobellis’ former team at American Express featured Montclair prominently in their national Shop Small ad campaign.

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  1. Congratulations to Ray’s Luncheonette! An amazingly historic surviving establishment that is tightly woven into Montclair’s social fabric. What comes to mind are the sports patrons like Clary Anderson and Aubrey Lewis. Even the famous New York architect Peter Eisenman, who was my professor, told me all about how the Montclair sports legends used to meet up at Ray’s when he was young local baseball enthusiast.

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