Through a partnership with HEINZ and Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice, The LEE Initiative has awarded $1,111,000 in grants to Black-owned food businesses across the country.

Among the recipients is The Black Italian Griglia Cucina, LLC (2009 Highland Ave. in Louisville.)

The Black Italian redefines what it means to cook with love. Owned by a Black and Italian husband/wife duo and named for their Black Italian daughter, the restaurant makes meals inspired by the melding of their heritage and their love.

In June 2021, The Black Italian was featured by Chef in a Box, which is APRON Inc.’s ongoing program to fund aid for service sector workers in need.

Chef in a Box (June 9 and 10): The Black Italian, with Chefs/Owners Paula and Anthony Hunter

Here’s the information release detailing the grant process.


The LEE Initiative, in partnership with HEINZ and Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice (SRRJ), awarded $1,111,000 to 71 number of Black-owned food businesses across the country. These grants are designed to support restaurant owners and to help preserve Black food culture. For a full list of grant winners, visit

“We have always been inspired by the work of the Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice and were honored to be able to partner with HEINZ to support SRRJ’s goal of assisting Black-owned food businesses,” says The LEE Initiative Co-Founder Managing Director Lindsey Ofcacek.

Of this partnership, Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice Co-Founder Lisa Donovan says, “”It has been an honor and a privilege to meet these business owners and build our community through this work. With any luck, we will get to continue this incredible opportunity to offer support and to build up the restaurateurs, cooks, chefs, and families that define a truly vital pulse in our industry.”

The LEE Initiative opened applications earlier this spring, committing to awarding 60 grants and through a generous private donation were able to add 11 more grant recipients.
“We’re thrilled to partner with The LEE Initiative and SRRJ to help foster a more diverse and equitable restaurant industry, as well as preserve the role that black food has played in shaping history, food and culture,” said Ashleigh Gibson, Brand Director, HEINZ. “We’re inspired by each of our grantees’ unique stories, and are proud to have played a small part in preserving their restaurants’ legacies.”

Additionally, the team at HEINZ is launching a podcast mini-series, The Black Kitchen Initiative, on September 29. In this podcast series, Food Historian Adrian Miller will interview several of the grant winners. The podcast will be available for streaming via Grant recipients will also be able to leverage HEINZ employee resources and business expertise to further support the longevity of Black-owned restaurants and entrepreneurship, such as assistance, training and resources in human resources, finance, marketing and more.