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Yelp awards $100,000 to Texas small businesses through winterization fund

Today, Yelp is excited to announce the recipients of its winterization fund in Texas. In light of extreme weather Texas experienced last winter and the impact it had on small businesses, the company launched its “Deck the Halls with Yelp” fund in December to help cover the costs of improvement projects needed to prepare for future severe weather events.

Recipients of the winterization fund include an iconic live music spot, longtime and relatively newer restaurants, a pet store, and a women-owned hair salon, all nominated by the Yelp community. 

“We will make the updates and upgrades we need to keep this train rolling. Essential electrical and heating upgrades, plumbing upkeep and cosmetic fixes are high on the list,” said Michelle Beebe, bar manager at Donn’s Depot. “Like most bars/live music venues during the first year of the pandemic, we were shut down and hanging on by a thread, waiting to open. A month before opening, the freeze hit and caused extensive plumbing issues throughout this old building. It was one more gut punch in an already difficult year…but the show must go on!”

Yelp data showed an increased demand for local services professionals in Texas last winter, in many categories including generator installation and repair (+30%), water heater installation and repair (+16%) and plumbing (+10%). Ten businesses will each receive $10,000 to put towards winterizing their brick-and-mortar locations as part of the fund.* 

“We are always looking to support small businesses, especially when unprecedented situations arise like last year’s Winter Storm Uri,” says Katie Burbank, Yelp Senior Community Director, Austin. “The severe weather coupled with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic have posed serious challenges for local businesses. This winterization fund is one way we can help these businesses that are cherished by the community with their immediate needs and preparations for the future.”

Yelp Winterization Fund Recipients: 

  • Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse
    • The original Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse opened in Elgin in 2014 by owners John McElroy and Dr. Ana Lam-McElroy. They have since opened up locations in Austin and Kyle, serving up specialty, fresh-made pizza using their family’s 30 year history of making pizzas, along with an offering of Texas craft beers and wines.
  • Comfort Cafe
    • San Antonio-based Comfort Cafe, which benefits addiction recovery programs, was named #1 Place to Eat in Texas earlier this year before they were forced to shutter their Bandera location due to devastating flooding. In a turn of luck, the pay-what-you-can eatery was selected to receive funding from Yelp’s “Make It Happen Day” in August, then randomly selected as a winner of the winterization fund, and looks forward to opening a new and improved location.
  • Crema Bakery & Cafe
  • Donn’s Depot
    • An Austin mainstay of live music, libations and dancing, Donn’s Depot is uniquely housed in a converted 1800’s train depot. A fixture in the music scene, owner Donn Adelman has been gathering generations of people and gracing the piano at Donn’s Depot for more than 50 years. The honky tonk faced potentially permanent closure amid unavoidable setbacks the past two years, but persevered with the help of its loyal “tribe.”

Historical picture of Donn’s Depot’s exterior, via Donn’s Depot

  • Foxhole Culinary Tavern
    • Local Austin restaurateurs, brothers Trey and Ryan Wolslager, opened Foxhole Culinary Tavern in 2014 with the goal to bring the social atmosphere they enjoyed in downtown Austin to the north side, along with Texas-inspired American cuisine. Their mission is “to bring the community closer with great dishes and specialty drinks in a laid-back atmosphere.”
  • Kismet Cafe
    • Family-owned and operated, Kismet Cafe was established in 1991 and became a favorite among its University of Texas neighborhood and beyond. After 22 years, owner Rami Bataineh relocated the cafe within the city in 2016, and patrons followed for their halal Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare.
  • Mint
    • While COVID-19 has certainly affected the beauty industry, and the winter storm of 2021 caused Mint to close its doors for multiple days, the woman-owned salon is celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year thanks to its talented staff and the clientele who trust Mint stylists’ dedication and artistry.
  • Paws on Chicon
    • Located in East Austin, Paws on Chicon is a pet retail store offering healthy food, treats, toys, supplies and services for Austin’s pet lovers. Owner Keith Zeiler aims to help traditionally underserved areas, as well as support local pet rescues and shelters through food, supply and monetary donations.

Paws on Chicon, via Yelp

  • Revival Coffee
    • Owner Gabriela Bucio was a loyal patron of the original Revival Coffee, and stepped up to give it new life when she heard the adored coffee shop was closing as a result of the pandemic. As a proud Latina immigrant, Bucio and her team are passionate about hiring local residents in an underserved and predominantly Latin community, which is showcased at the highly photoworthy, mega-pink coffee shop.
  • Taste of Ethiopia
    • Taste of Ethiopia was founded by Woinee Mariam and her husband Solomon Hailu in Pflugerville in 2008, and the couple later opened a  second location in Austin. Mariam aims for guests to feel at home with her traditional Ethiopian dishes, which are largely her own family recipes.

Taste of Ethiopia, Trey B. via Yelp

Have you visited one of these beloved Central Texas businesses? Share with us on social @YelpAustin and @YelpSanAntonio on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok!

*See the Deck the Halls with Yelp Official Rules here.