Skechers fund contributes $680,000 to struggling Manhattan Beach restaurants; Supervisor Hahn starts grant program
by Mark McDermott
The Skechers Restaurant COVID relief fund has raised $680,000 and disbursed 28 grants to restaurants in downtown and north Manhattan Beach. But Skechers president Michael Greenberg hopes that this is only the beginning of the effort.
Greenberg, who headquartered his company in Manhattan Beach three decades ago after making the city his adoptive hometown, last month announced Skechers was launching the relief fund and would match up to $500,000 in contributions to help local restaurants. Instead, Skechers has already contributed $500,000 and raised another $180,000 in matching funds.
Greenberg, in an interview, said he still hopes for more matching funds but that the need was so urgent that Skechers made its full contribution.
“This is a time that we have to try to scream and holler for help,” Greenberg said. “And if there was ever a time in someone’s life that they thought about doing something for somebody else, this is it. It’s clear as day right in front of you.”
LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn has launched a $330,000 grant program, designed to help both small restaurants and families in need. The funding has been distributed to 10 non-profit organizations across the Fourth Supervisorial District. The nonprofits are using the funds to purchase gift cards from small restaurants in their communities and distributing the cards to local families in need. In the South Bay, The Volunteer Center is administering the program, which thus far has received 40 applications.
“People are hurting,” said Hahn. “Through no fault of their own, people have lost jobs and wages, and small businesses have been shuttered. We designed this program to get food on families’ tables while at the same time supporting the local restaurants that are struggling right now.”
Greenberg said that the Skechers relief fund is geographically focused on downtown and North Manhattan Beach in order to provide the maximum relief for those restaurants.
“Because our little world, where we live, is in a war to survive,” Greenberg said. “Geographically, we needed to save that patient, so to speak.”
Greenberg described local restaurants as “the heartbeat of the town” and said if more funds are raised Skechers would like to expand the program to other areas.
“If the community continues to support the Skechers Restaurant Relief Fund, then there’s a possibility we can expand the geography,” he said. “But we’re not there yet. I just implore people to continue to give. You cannot give enough in these times. Every dollar is appreciated, and every dollar above that is appreciated even more. And it’s needed, it’s really needed.”
Mike Simms, a local restauranteur and president of the Downtown Business Association, said that Skechers assistance has made a big impact.
“For many restaurants in Manhattan Beach these grants have been a lifeline through the last month and a half,” Simms said. “Michael Greenberg has taken a personal and methodical approach to helping ensure restaurants in Manhattan Beach are allowed to stay open. He has a huge heart for Manhattan Beach. His business acumen combined with his philanthropy will help ensure MB stays vibrant after this passes over.”
Greenberg said he fervently hopes that the grants provide enough of a lifeline.
“It’s heartbreaking to see people running local businesses, whether it’s retail or restaurants, who put so much of their livelihood into these smaller businesses, and to see them hanging on by a thread,” Greenberg said. “It’s one of the most emotional things that I’ve come across, having direct conversations with some of them…to see the anguish in their eyes, it’s real, it’s pure, and it’s raw. Nobody should have to go through this, but here we are.”
For more information on the Skechers Restaurant Relief Fund, see https://about.skechers.com/skechers-foundation or call Robin Curren at the Skechers Foundation at 310-318-3100. For more information on the grants organized by Supervisor Janice Hahn, see volcenter.org/restaurants.