Aurora Provides More Than $750,000 To Local Restaurants
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on businesses, and the City of Aurora has remained consistent and committed to providing financial relief and assistance to our local business owners. To date, the City has provided more than $2 million in direct cash assistance through the CERF Fund ($927,000), the STABLE Fund ($883,000), and the current ongoing Finish Line and Re-Start Retention Grant Programs ($192,000 and growing).
Nearly 200 Aurora businesses across business categories and throughout the City have been assisted, with more than $765,000 going directly to the restaurant sector and 60% of those funds supporting restaurants in downtown Aurora specifically.
Although the vast majority of our restaurants are on the upward road to recovery, and several new restaurants have opened amid the pandemic, the unfortunate reality is that a handful of restaurants have closed or significantly changed their service model.
Most recently, Gillerson’s Grubbery announced the closure of its brick-and-mortar restaurant as operations transition to its food truck arm. The City would like to set the record straight on the actual facts about the financial assistance provided to Gillerson’s and its owner Dan Emerson and all of the other financial assistance the City has provided to other Aurora businesses.
Gillerson’s received $31,250 in CERF and STABLE Funds, an amount comparable to neighboring restaurants, including Endiro ($25,000) next door, Ballydoyle ($35,000) across the street, and La Quinta de Los Reyes ($33,750) one block east, and nearby Two Brothers Roundhouse ($40,000).
In addition, to support business operations at Gillerson’s and restaurants in the immediate area, beginning in 2020 the City closed Piney Street behind Gillerson’s and in the first year provided their business City picnic tables at the City’s expense so that an outside eating area could be incorporated and expanded, curbside pickup spots were reserved on New York Street to support their takeout, and a city electrical box was made available free of charge to support outdoor entertainment including musicians and outdoor movies. The City has worked with Mr. Emerson for several years and received his thanks and gratitude for doing so.
That is why Mr. Emerson's recent social media post attempting to discredit the City was unexpected, unwarranted, and untrue.
Most recently, the City’s Economic Development Department responded to a request from Mr. Emerson for additional financial assistance and spent many weeks working with him on a presentation to City Council that would support this request. As a fiduciary for taxpayers, the City always performs comprehensive financial analysis to substantiate any business requests for financial assistance.
While Mr. Emerson provided 2021 revenue totals of $946,000, he was unable or unwilling to provide data for expenses and profits, which every business was required to provide to secure a grant. Consequently, the City was forced to withdraw the request for approval of $75,000 from the City Council agenda, even as other requests from downtown businesses negatively impacted by Covid-19 moved ahead and were approved for funding, including Kathryn’s Place ($87,000), Altiro Latin Fusion ($101,000), and Stolp Island Social ($45,000). Even still, Mr. Emerson thanked the City’s Economic Development Department for its efforts as he indicated he was shifting priorities to prioritize his food truck business instead of the restaurant.
Also, it is important to note the City's Economic Development Department – of which Mr. Emerson stated 'can't deliver on what they talk about’ - was still actively working to provide Gillerson’s additional funds even though Mr. Emerson is in arrears to the City for more than $20,000 in the required food and beverage taxes, of which a portion has already been sent to collections and a part of which is estimated because he hasn't filed a return for more than a year.
The City is well aware of the ongoing financial needs of our business community, which is why two grant programs were expanded recently. As requests come in from local businesses for the Finish Line and Re-Start Retention Grant Programs, the City will continue to operate with keen dedication and diligence to help Aurora small businesses – the backbone of our business community. For more details and applications, visit www.aurora-il.org/MOEDGrants