VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) - In the last year, many restaurants have had to close their doors because of the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now one organization wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to any more local restaurants.

The Northwest Wine & Food Society says every year it usually gives grants to students, but this year it decided to give grants to restaurants who were suffering during the pandemic. They said the focus of their grants was for restaurants with a big community impact.

Wednesday, a Vancouver restaurant received one of the $5,000 grants. It also came on Cinco de Mayo, a big day for restaurants.

Little Conejo says they are known for their tacos and mezcal and are a favorite on Cinco de Mayo. They say they don’t know who nominated them for this financial award, but they plan to use the money to give back to their staff.

“This is going to give us the chance to do some maintenance repairs and stuff, but a big portion of it is going to go to a staff party and we’re really excited about that. Just kind of saying thank you to the crew for grinding it out for the last year and a half,” said Michal Dynes, co-owner of Little Conejo.

The NWFS says that their grants will be awarded to restaurants in the Portland metro area on the fifth of each month through July.

“We really want to support the mom and pops if you will. And the restaurants that are being nominated are neighborhood restaurants, where there’s real compassion on the part of the donor and the neighbor to support their local restaurant,” said Russell Brent, a board member for NWFS.

The money for the grants is coming from individual donors, as well as a $50,000 donation from the Cowlitz Tribe.

Dynes says he’s honored to receive one of the grants and has always thought of restaurants as an integral part of any community.

“It always gives me joy when I see an older couple eating here, a younger couple eating here, teenagers, people from all walks of life. I think that speaks to something that we’re doing, something that we’re giving,” he said.

Restaurants can still be nominated on Northwest Wine & Food Society's Facebook page. People can also donate to the program at

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