Patsy's hopes to fulfill culinary dreams through grant contest
Patsy’s restaurant in Bethany Beach is hoping to make a positive impact on the area through a $250,000 small-business grant, but first, they’re looking for some community love — and votes — to make that dream possible.
The nationwide Mission: Small Business program will award up to 12 grants of $250,000 each to businesses with a dream. But Patsy’s owner Patsy Rankin doesn’t just want to expand her business. Instead, she wants to share the restaurant’s expertise by creating a culinary career training program in Bethany Beach.
“It’s for people who can’t get to culinary school … teach them the basics so they’d be qualified to work at almost any of the kitchens around here,” said Rankin.
But before the judges will even consider Rankin’s idea, the restaurant must earn 250 votes in the contest online. If they obtain those preliminary votes, Patsy’s will be eligible for official consideration.
Time is of the essence, though, as early this week Patsy’s only needed a few dozen more votes to qualify, and the contest ends Saturday, June 30.
“We’re so close!” Rankin said Tuesday.
Supporters of Rankin’s dream can get involved by clicking the “Support” button at www.MissionSmallBusiness.com. That links to a Facebook page, where people can select Patsy’s restaurant in Delaware in order to give her proposal their vote.
In addition to supporting their favorite business of 100 of fewer employees, each time a customer clicks to support a small business, sponsors Chase and LivingSocial has added another $5 to the grant pool, which began at $1 million and has already reached its cap of $3 million, ensuring the full dozen businesses selected will each receive $250,000 grants.
Culinary school can be pricey and time-consuming, but a career training program could help students of all ages, making them more marketable area restaurants, according to Rankin.
“We see so many people come in, wanting to work, but they don’t have the experience,” she said. “We don’t always have the time to train them.”
Their schooling would take place in the wintertime, when coastal life is quiet. People could learn everything from knife-handling skills to prep work, eventually testing their cooking skills at night in Patsy’s kitchen.
“It’s a whole different ballgame, sitting in the class, going to culinary school, than going to a commercial kitchen. It’s not for everybody. It’s a difficult job,” Rankin said.
In the future, students could also visit local schools to promote healthy eating and get children interested in better nutrition, said Rankin.
“It provides jobs for them for the future, jobs during the winter,” plus paid positions for academy instructors, Rankin said.
The grant money, she said, would help kick off the program with new equipment and student supplies. Grant recipients will be announced on or before Sept. 15.