WORCESTER — The $5,000 check came as a complete surprise to Steve Chioda who, with his wife, Donna Chioda, operates Chioda's Tratorria Italian Restaurant on Franklin Street.
The money came from the Massachusetts Conference of Women, which recently handed out $400,000 — $5,000 each — to 80 women-owned restaurants across the Bay State.
The funds were designated to help during the pandemic and this marked the second time the funds were distributed to women restaurant owners.
Donna Chioda was one of those women. Her husband, who was at work Thursday night, said they deposited the check and will use the money to catch up on bills including utilities.
"It's a godsend," he said. "It's going to be very helpful."
Chioda's Tratorria was one of six Worcester restaurants to receive the funding. The others are Accra Girls Restaurant at 1280 Grafton St., Suite 1; Park Grill & Spirits, 257 Park Ave.; El Castillo Latin Food, 257 Park Ave.; Fatima’s Café, 43 West Boylston St.; and Unique Café, formerly of 79-81 Millbury St.
For some, the money will make a big difference.
Ana Hernandez owns El Castillo and said the pandemic has been "really, really hard" for businesses like hers.
She said she'd use the money to help with rent so the two or three employees she has can keep working.
"And for services," she said. "For the last year, it's been hard all the time but that helps a lot."
The Massachusetts Restaurant Association helped to administer the grants, which included other Worcester County restaurants, as well. At Enrico's Brick Oven Pizzeria in Sturbridge, owner Nicole Alicea was very happy to receive the $5,000.
"This is definitely super helpful," she said, adding that the pizzeria's hours were trimmed during the pandemic and she's glad to have additional funds as she ramps up to begin opening on Wednesdays again in two weeks.
Before the pandemic, she opened six days a week but during COVID-19, that was cut to four days a week. She said she worked at Enrico's in high school and seven years ago she bought the restaurant as a young entrepreneur and now has 40 employees.
She said the money will help her buy equipment that she'll need.
Sunshine Cafe at 310 High St., Clinton, and Tomasso Trattoria & Enoteca at The Crossings, 154 Turnpike Road, Southborough, also received funds from the conference of women.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Restaurants benefit from Mass. Conference of Women's pandemic funding