By Da Lin

DUBLIN (KPIX) — Small businesses hit hard by the pandemic may see some financial relief in the city of Dublin. The city started accepting online applications Friday morning for $10,000 grants to qualifying local businesses. City leaders said small businesses are the backbone of Dublin and their survival is important and they’re handing out the money to help those businesses get through the holidays and the pandemic.

Mariam Nasiri heard about the Small Business Recovery Grant Program and was in the process of applying for the money. She opened Khyber Pass Afghan Restaurant with her sister nine years ago. The ban on in-person dining means more than 80 percent of their business is gone.

“We went from a staff of 10 down to only three,” Nasiri said.

She said the restaurant is barely getting by. Every dollar coming in is going toward the commercial rent and groceries.

“I am actually taking no wages, no paychecks to keep it standing and to keep it going,” Nasiri said.

She said the city grant would help her restaurant survive a few more months.

“For a family restaurant, $10,000 is definitely enough money to keep us open, to buy some more groceries, to be very strategic about this,” Nasiri said.

“This grant program is pure grant — pure free money,” said Shari Jackman, public information officer for Dublin.

Jackman said the money is for brick-and-mortar businesses that have no more than 50 employees.

“A lot of our small business owners are residents of Dublin so it really helps us help them,” Jackman said.

The program opened on Friday morning and, by noon, she said 50 businesses had applied. The money comes from city reserves.

Tony Cassara also planned to apply. His Italian Men’s Wear relies on proms, weddings and other formal events. He notes that people aren’t buying as many suits while they’re working from home.

“I’m a third generation in this business. This is probably the toughest it has been. It’s a family livelihood so it’s very important. We would hate to shut down,” Cassara said.

The program, which has $1 million in funding, is distributing money on a first-come, first-served basis. For information go to http://dublin.ca.gov/recoveryboostgrant