DENVILLE TOWNSHIP, NJ (Morris County) – The landmark Summit West Diner in Denville Township was served up a check Tuesday, fresh from the Morris County Small Business Grant Program, as the Morris County Board of County Commissioners continued to help business owners hit hard by the pandemic.
The restored, 1950s style eatery, located on Route 46 West, qualified for $14,287 in grant dollars, just shy of the $15,000 maximum permitted through the program. The diner was closed for more than three months during the pandemic, while additionally struggling with a loss of customers, rising prices on supplies and paying bills to keep the business open.
“Thank you so much for this. It really helps,” said Michele Greberis, who has owned and operated the diner since restoring it in 2017.
The stylized eatery, symbolic of New Jersey’s dwindling number of landmark roadside diners, still bears a neon “West Side Diner” sign from its earlier incarnation.
On hand to deliver the grant was Morris County Commissioners Stephen Shaw and Douglas Cabana, accompanied by Denville Mayor Thomas Andes.
Morris County Commissioners are personally delivering some of the grant checks to talk to the owners of small businesses and learn more about the challenges they encounter surviving the pandemic. The Commissioners also are learning how the grant program may be improved and want to spread the word that the program remains open.
More than 600 applications have been filed since Morris County Small Business Program launched on Valentine’s Day with the slogan, “Morris County Loves Small Business.” The Morris County Board of County Commissioners created the grant program from pandemic relief funding issued through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The Commissioners dedicated $10 million to the effort, and Morris County is still accepting applications.
Most of applications heading for final approval will provide each of the qualified businesses and nonprofits the maximum grant amount of $15,000. While the remaining applications are still being reviewed, the program remains open to new applications and there is no cost to apply.
The Small Business Grant Program eligibility requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Business has 25 or fewer full-time employees (or equivalent)
- In operation since Jan. 1, 2019
- Located within Morris County
- Less than $5 million in sales/revenue
- Proof of a decline in sales/increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Federal guidelines covering the grant program will determine exactly which expenses qualify for coverage under the grant program and which applications may be approved.
The grants are capped at $15,000 per applicant. However, business owners and nonprofits are encouraged to submit applications that include all costs they believe may qualify for the grant, even if the total amount of a single claim exceeds $15,000.
A final review may determine that some costs submitted for consideration are not covered under the program guidelines. However, by submitting all expenses that may qualify, applicants increase the possibility of getting the maximum amount of grant dollars possible.