The owners of J. Gumbo’s have received a business grant they plan to use to upgrade the restaurant and give back to the community.
Richard and Nathalie Upton, owners of J. Gumbo’s at 9 N. Sandusky St. in downtown Delaware, were announced as the winners of a Small Business Minority Grant from Citizens Bank, who reported that 22,000 applications were filed for the one hundred available $15,000 grants.
Richard Upton said he was “thrilled” when he received word that his business would be receiving one of the grants.
“I knew I was in the final leg so that takes a bit of the excitement off, however, this is 2020, so until I got the call saying you won, I was prepared to get a call telling me otherwise,” he said.
The Uptons said they will be using the funds to increase safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding they plan to purchase a hospital-grade air purifier and an upgraded dishwasher. They also plan to spend some of the money on marketing the restaurant to increase customers.
“We are looking for things that will make people more comfortable dining with us,” Upton said. “We are looking at approved items that will help maximize our indoor seating without making people think about COVID-19 issues while enjoying their visit with us.”
The Uptons said the pandemic has required them to pivot and adapt, but the restaurant has never shut down because of the community’s support.
According to the Uptons, there have been times an entire street of families ordered food, while others donated to purchase meals for first responders, frontline workers, postal workers, and Delaware City Schools staff.
The Uptons said that at the start of the pandemic, J. Gumbo’s Delaware began a program called “Community Love Meals,’’ where they match donations to pay it forward and provide meals to food-insecure members of the community. Anyone can come in and pull a Community Love Meal voucher off the wall, no questions asked, and receive a hot meal and a drink, they said.
“It is something we could do that had an immediate impact on our community,” Upton said. “It was an easy decision. The support and need for it is still ongoing. We are grateful to our city, the surrounding communities, and that we can be here in a community that we love, that loves us back.”
The Uptons said they will also be using a portion of the grant to support local nonprofits.
“This is odd to say as I love what I do. Owning and running a restaurant is not fun. It is not easy, it is work,” Upton said. “The things you can do with and because of the restaurant is what makes it fun and what drives me to show up every day. Being able to be charitable, help those that need it is one of the huge parts of our mission that excite our krewe and makes it fun for them as well.”