American Express Backing International Small Restaurants Grant Program

Main Streets of Australia Week

Applications are now closed.

As your local precinct advocate, Mainstreet Australia is proud to team up with American Express and the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation as a local partner for the Amex Backing International Small Restaurants grant program.

Supporting Australia’s restaurant economy is imperative, especially during times of economic uncertainty, because it ensures they can continue to provide local communities with meaningful experiences.

The program offers funding for improvements and long-term sustainability, so you can focus on serving your customers and fostering community connections.

Introducing the Backing International Small Restaurants Grant Program

Applications Now Closed: American Express has announced the expansion of its Backing International Small Restaurants grant program, with venues in Melbourne and Sydney eligible to apply.

Run in partnership with the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation and supported by Mainstreet Australia, small restaurant owners have been invited to apply for one of 10 grants each valued at $21,500 to put towards improving their business.

In its first two years in Australia, Backing International Small Restaurants has provided $240,000 in financial support. The program, founded by American Express, recognises the challenges small dining venues face in the current economic climate and aims to give them a helping hand. Restaurants operated by underrepresented and/or economically vulnerable members of the community will be given special consideration.

Robert Tedesco, Vice President of Global Merchant Network Services for American Express Australia and New Zealand, said:

“Small independently run restaurants are at the heart of our communities and local economies. Many are struggling with the fallout of cost-of-living pressures and need support. It’s why this year we have expanded the program to Melbourne for the first time, in addition to Sydney. We’re lucky to have one of the best dining scenes in the world and we want to see it remain vibrant. The majority of small restaurants are family operated, so these grants will help venues keep growing and serving their communities, while protecting their legacy for future generations.”

Backing International Small Restaurants builds on American Express’ efforts to support small businesses year-round, including through its American Express Delicious. Month Out, the annual Shop Small campaign, a worldwide movement that shines a spotlight on small businesses, and other global “Backing Small” programs.

Applications are now CLOSED. All small independent restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne have been encouraged to apply. To learn more about Backing International Small Restaurants visit:

Stay tuned to our social media channels and monthly eDM for ongoing updates, resources and information pertaining to the program.

To receive timely updates, make sure you subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay in the loop.

About the BISR Program

In 2024, American Express is expanding support for its Backing International Small Restaurants grant program to nine cities across five countries, up from five cities across five countries. Four new cities will be eligible for grant funding this year:

Manchester, Melbourne, Montreal, and Osaka, in addition to restaurants in London, Mexico City, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto that have been a part of the program since 2022.

In partnership with the International Downtown Association (IDA) Foundation, the program will more than double the annual grant funding to $955,000 USD, up from $435,000 USD in previous years. Since the inception of Backing International Small Restaurants in 2022, American Express has provided $810,000 USD in funding to 70 global restaurants.

Key Program Details

Application Deadline

Applications closed on Friday, May 31st, 2024 at 2pm AEST.

Grant Award

10 grants of AUD $21,500 are available altogether in Melbourne and Sydney. View the FAQs and Terms & Conditions on the IDA program page for more information around the grant award.


To be eligible, restaurants must already be in operation and have a brick and mortar location/storefront in Sydney (Greater Sydney boundaries) or Melbourne (Greater Melbourne boundaries). Digital-only businesses are not eligible (digital includes online and application-based businesses). Visit the IDA program page for more information on eligibility criteria.

Who Can Apply

Any restaurant, pub, bar, or café with food service in Melbourne or Sydney that satisfies the eligibility criteria can apply. View the full eligibility criteria & other important information about who can apply via the IDA program page. Prior grant recipients of the Backing International Small Restaurants grant program are not eligible for consideration.

In this briefing, Mainstreet Australia gave a comprehensive overview of the recently launched Backing International Small Restaurants program for small restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney.

If you weren’t able to make it to the briefing, we’ve provided the recording which covers the application process, grant criteria, and how the program seeks to support restaurants operated by underrepresented and/or economically vulnerable members of our communities.

You can also view and download the presentation slide deck here.

If you have any other queries that we haven’t covered here, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

Past Grant Awardees Showcase

In 2022, the program granted a total of $375,000 USD to 36 small, independent restaurants in London, Mexico City, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto. Then, in 2023, the program increased total awards to $435,000 USD across 35 restaurants that are making an impact by creating community and cultural connections in their cities. Learn more about some of the previous grant award recipients below by reading their case studies, or view all past awardees from 2022-23.

Canvas and Cream - London, UK

A dynamic neighbourhood restaurant and community space that hosts working artist studios and cultural events.

Las Panas Cohesión Cocción — Mexico City, Mexico

A feminist bakery creating resources to support and enable women in abusive relationships so that they can live independently.

Food Addict - Sydney, Australia

Sustainability lies at the center of Food Addict’s ethos, and is reflected in their mindful sourcing practices and meticulously crafted menu.

Hama House - Tokyo, Japan

A modern multi-use space and café considered a “living room in the city”.

Gushi Japanese Street Food — Toronto, Canada

A specialty street-food concept devoted to community connection and authentic Japanese fried chicken.

Main Streets of Australia Week
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