Our city has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways, and the CAR Foundation has made it their goal to help affected small business owners. During Black History Month in February, we awarded three grants to Black locally-owned businesses, and we followed suit in May in honor of Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
Meet the AAPI small business owners who were awarded $1,000 grants and make sure to stop by, say hello and support their establishments.
Fullerton Health Mart Pharmacy has been servicing the Belmont-Cragin community since 2012. They focus on a holistic approach, going above and beyond what chain stores can offer. The pharmacy provides clinical and delivery services at no cost to clients who need it, and clients receive personal attention from staff to get their medication questions answered and unique health needs met.
“The staff in Fullerton Pharmacy go to nursing homes and hospitals to try to have relationships with the nurses, and therefore better [service] our patients, so it’s a little bit more hands-on experience,” Fullerton Health Mart Pharmacy representative Cindy Hwang said.
At the height of the pandemic, Fullerton Health Mart Pharmacy stayed open to serve their community; in the 60639 zip code, one out of seven people contracted COVID-19 (the average Chicago infection rate was one in 12). When medication was scarce, pharmacy staff worked hard to obtain necessary drugs and deliver them to patients. They also provided health consultations for the community, especially for those
concerned about access to affordable healthcare, and shifted their business model, working with Uber to broaden their delivery options.
“We are prideful in our duty to the community and have not closed one business day since the pandemic started,” Hwang said.
This grant will be used to assist their staff in making deliveries and maintaining a high level of customer service for their patients.
Located in North Park, 2 Asian Brothers Restaurant has been under its current ownership since 2018, when it was taken over by two brothers and their best friend, Chicago REALTOR® Tuyen Nguyen of Chicago Real Estate Resources, Inc. (CRER). The restaurant serves street food staples from Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai cultures, including Banh Mi, noodle bowls, pho and boba tea, and offers dine-in, carry out and delivery options.
During the pandemic, 2 Asian Brothers partnered with the Asian Real Estate Association (AREAA) and CRER Cares to provide over 500 boxed meals to frontline workers and first responders.
“We did a food train where we dropped off food to hospitals, nursing homes, police departments and fire departments all over Chicago,” Nguyen said. “We also collaborated with other small business owners who donated money to continue the mission to support first responders.”
Over 60% of 2 Asian Brothers’ business revenue and customer base comes from students from North Park University, Von Stueben High School and North Side Prep High School. When those schools closed and dine-in restrictions were put in place, revenue took a hard hit, dropping more than 70% during the first three months of the pandemic. While business has slowly picked up as restrictions eased, the restaurant is not yet back to its pre COVID numbers.
“We’re going through a lot of ups and downs,” Nguyen said. “There are outstanding bills and we do have broken equipment. [This grant] will be a great opportunity for us to make ourselves more self-sufficient right now.”
We will continue to support other Chicago-based, minority-owned small businesses impacted by the pandemic throughout the year. Keep an eye out for our small business grant application announcements and share them with those in your community who qualify. Together, we will continue to uplift our communities and those who keep them thriving!
Watch the AAPI Heritage Month commemorative event to learn more about these grant recipients.