As San Antonio goes barreling into another unpredictable winter, pamphlets are floating around on the sometimes-chilly breeze, delivering tips about how to keep warm and prepare for emergencies. (Cue the demonstrations of terra cotta pots placed upside down over decorative candles.) It’d be nice to live somewhere with a less-than-frantic capacity for managing its power grid, but for now, one San Antonio business has … Yelp.
The trusty online neighborhood guide is taking things into its own crowdsourced hands. In December, it announced its $100,000 winterization fund, Deck the Halls with Yelp, which allowed San Antonians and Austinites to nominate small local businesses to receive warming grants. Those supporters eventually voted for one intrepid San Antonio staple and nine Austin businesses.
A press release lists some of the spikes Yelp noticed in consumer interest related to keeping buildings in working order in the wake of the big freeze last February: Somehow, chimney sweeps were far in the lead, at a 64 percent increase, followed by fireplace and generator services, each at 30 percent.
Red flags like these showed Yelp where its resources could “prevent setbacks,” Emily Washcovick, a small-business expert at Yelp, explains.
“Yelp’s holiday winterization fund is one way we hope to give local businesses that are essential to our communities a helping hand following [last] year’s extreme weather,” she says.
The giveaway recipients are free to use the cash influx — $10,000 each — on whatever winterizing needs they may have, and hopefully just in time for colder weather.
Comfort Cafe, the sole San Antonio recipient (and a regular Yelp favorite), is seeing an unusual role reversal as it sits on the receiving end of supporting funds. All profits from the women-owned breakfast joint support SerenityStar, a nonprofit confronting addiction with a spiritual and familial focus.
This isn’t the first time Yelp has leant a helping hand to Comfort Cafe. In the summer of 2021, the donation-based nonprofit eatery received $10,000 from Yelp’s $100,000 Make It Happen Day fund. Those funds were used to help Comfort Cafe repair flood damage to its Bandera location, which forced the closure of the restaurant temporarily.
According to Yelp, with the new funding, the folks at Comfort Cafe look forward “to opening a new and improved location” soon.
In Austin, the local businesses benefiting from the Yelp fund include:
- Donn’s Depot, a bar and music venue, which will use the money for multiple upgrades, including to electric, heating, plumbing, and some cosmetic tweaks.
- Paws on Chicon, a pet-supply store that will invest in new generators to keep operations going smoothly and raw meat cold.
- Revival Coffee is making the funds work for extreme weather year-round, implementing new outdoor heaters in the winter and fans in the summer.
- Mint Salon, a hair collective, is putting its winnings into its front facade, replacing windows, and upgrading insulation.
Additionally, Austin businesses Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse, Crema Bakery & Cafe, Foxhole Culinary Tavern, Kismet Cafe, and Taste of Ethiopia are all making their own changes with $10,000 Yelp grants.
To read more about these 10 businesses and how they coped with the storm, visit blog.yelp.com.