It saw such success, programs were created for Airport District and Tower District businesses to apply for grants.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- From Albondigas to Huevos Rancheros, you can find comfort food at Cafe Leon.
Saul Gonzalez has been at the helm of the restaurant for two years.
The central Fresno staple of more than two decades sits on Blackstone and Ashlan.
It faced the same challenge as many other businesses - trying to get customers back in-house after pandemic-era restrictions.
"When these businesses opened back up, a lot of people didn't know they were back in business, so being able to touch up the paint, say welcome back, we appreciate your patronage," says Fresno City Councilmember Tyler Maxwell.
Cafe Leon is one of 68 businesses city-wide benefiting from the Facade Improvement Program through the City of Fresno and Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation.
All grant money was secured through federal ARPA dollars.
"We were very happy," Gonzalez said. "I'm going to be honest -- we couldn't believe it."
Cafe Leon was able to repaint the entire business, put up new signage and revamp the outdoor waiting area.
Now, the beautiful exterior matches the magic made inside.
"It's a bright color, that way everyone cannot miss it," Gonzalez said.
The program allowed businesses to apply for up to $25,000.
"They take a chance on the City of Fresno, and we want to take a chance on them by helping them out a little bit," Maxwell said.
It saw such success, two programs were created for Airport District and Tower District businesses to apply for $40,000-$70,000 grants.
Because when small businesses do well, Fresno's economy does well.
"Sales tax is one of the number-one revenues that allow us to do basic stuff here in the City of Fresno, from transporting clean water to hiring police officers," Maxwell said.
Fresno's Economic Development Director works as a liaison for small businesses and the city.
"If we can link our businesses to grant programs that we have either within the City of Fresno or outside, they will stand to benefit from it and so will the city," Maxwell said.
The application period may be over but the program was so successful, city leaders are exploring new ways to support local businesses.