MERCER, Pa. (WKBN) – Vaccinations aren’t the only metaphorical shot in the arm going out these days. COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) grants started to go out to Pennsylvania hospitality businesses that suffered during the pandemic.
Recipients can get between $5,000 and $50,000 to help with business losses from 2020.
One recipient of the grant is Barbara Mills, of Mercer, who owns Who’s Hangry? food truck. They specialize in making something called mountain pie, sometimes known as a hobo pie or camp pie.
“They used cast iron pieces that close together, and you would stick it right inside the fire. That’s how you would make your mountain pie. We do a little different way because ours are so big. We don’t want to mash them, Mills said.
Mills said she got the idea from a childhood favorite food.
“When I was growing up as a kid, we lived at a campground and we ate pizza pies over the campfire every Friday and Saturday night,” she said. “We took the basic idea of a Mountain Pie sandwich from the campfire, and we made gourmet Mountain Pie sandwiches.
They were having a lot of luck with their business in the first year then COVID hit.
“We had a lot of events scheduled for last spring and summer and even into the fall. Probably about 80% of the events that we did have were canceled due to the pandemic,” Mills said.
Mills says the $5,000 CHIRP grant will go a long way to help her stay afloat.
A little more than $1.2 million dollars is going out to businesses in Mercer County. Penn-Northwest Development Corporation is helping the state distribute that money.
“It’s been eye-opening. The thing that struck me and our team that has been working on these applications was just the resiliency of these small business owners. They were faced with these unprecedented circumstances and they privoted, they changed their business model. They kept people employed,” said Rod Wilt, executive director of Penn-Northwest Development.
Mills says she plans to use her money to invest in advertising and renovating her food truck.
“With the grant we received, that’s going to make up about half of what we lost, but it will help us keep our food truck on the road. There’s gas, there’s insurance, everything we need to do to keep the food truck in business and moving around Mercer County,” Mills said.
All recipients include: (Mercer County)
- MLH Distillery $25,000
- Great American Ventures $40,000
- Talbot’s Taproom & Terrace $30,000
- Corinthian Banquet Center $15,000
- Who’s Hangry $5,000
- Royal Motel $10,000
- Mercer Pizza Barn $10,000
- Springfield Hospitality Group $50,000
- Toss’d Food Service $30,000
This is the first batch of grant recipients. About half of the money has been awarded so far.
Penn-Northwest Development Corporation is expected to give the rest out in the next few weeks.