New London ― Mike Zaccaro, co-owner of Tox Brewing Co., said the $10,000 grant he received from the Women’s Business Development Council will go toward revitalizing his outdoor alleyway into a European-style beer garden.
The business, at 635 Broad St. for the past four years, is in the process of moving and expanding to the first floor of a new development at 123 Bank St.
Zaccaro was among five business owners and grant recipients highlighted at an open house held by the WBDC on Wednesday morning at its 61 Bank St. office, where local businesses were invited to come learn about the city’s and WBDC’s Small Business Grant Program.
The Small Business Grant Program has provided 19 grants totaling more than $170,000 to New London-based businesses since the fall.
The other recipients were New London Ink tattoo shop; mental health services provider Emily Warner; Fred’s Shanty Restaurant; and therapist Katelyn Baez of Empowering Connections.
Alicia De Sena, the grants manager for WBDC, said it has been giving out grants up to $10,000 on a monthly basis to qualifying small businesses since November. She said the grants are not limited to women-owned businesses.
The nonprofit will continue to hand out grants until the funds, totaling about $300,000, are exhausted. Last year, the New London City Council approved $260,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to WBDC, which was for the grant program and renovations to WBDC’s new home and eastern Connecticut regional office on Bank Street.
De Sena said the grants not only impact businesses, they provide the community with more food options, places to gather and mental health services.
Zaccaro said he and Dayne Laskey, his business partner and long-time friend, are aiming to make their new location a destination brewery with a stage area to welcome events like pop-up shops; woodfire pizza, morning coffee service and a lot more beer. He said they hope to open the tap room later this year and the brewery sometime next year.
“The city seems excited, and we’ve had a lot of support from the city and local organizations like this,” he said. “We’re very thankful and excited.”
Jared Schroeder, the owner of New London Ink, said the $10,000 grant he received will help to add tattooing stations and hire additional artists at his shop across the street at 90 Bank St. The business has been at different locations on Bank Street for 13 years.
Schroeder said getting through the COVID-19 pandemic was tough but the shop was able to come back strong and keep artists. He added the shop had to close down for the month of October due to a pipe bursting from an upstairs apartment but has reopened.
Schroeder said he was grateful to the program and the women’s council who told him about the grant.