Seattle-based Ezell's Famous Chicken offers grants to Black-owned businesses across region

Seattle-based Ezell’s Famous Chicken is partnering with DoorDash to offer 20 grants to Black-owned businesses and organizations in the Pacific Northwest. 

Members of the franchise said they wanted to give back to the community that helped them live up to the company’s name.

"The community has always embraced us and supported us and it just feels good. Any opportunity to give back and partner with the community is just a great feeling," said Lewis Rudd, president, CEO and co-founder of Ezell’s.

Ezell’s Famous Chicken wasn’t always as famous as it is today across the region. In 1984, it all started from humble beginnings at its original location in Seattle’s Central District.

"When we were starting out, it was challenging for us to actually get the business going. It took five years to get the first loan to get the business up and running. After that, it was still challenging to get access to capital to expand the business," said Rudd.

From the original location on 23rd Ave and East Jefferson Street, Rudd and his family’s famous recipes expanded to several locations across the region. He credits their success to tremendous community support over the last three decades. Rudd said he wants other Black-owned businesses to see that same success.

"An opportunity to help bridge the gap, that wealth gap. And promoting entrepreneurship so that there’s more options and opportunity for our youth and our community," said Rudd.

He launched an initiative called Raising Up Black Businesses (R.U.B.B.). Through the initiative and partnership with DoorDash, Ezell’s is able to offer 20 grants worth $2,500 to Black-owned businesses and organizations in the area. Rudd said many of the Black entrepreneurs didn’t qualify for federal funds during the pandemic.

"Unlike others in the industry, we were doing well. We were actually thriving. So rather than us using the funds to do promotional stuff to promote Ezell’s, I asked [DoorDash] if we could utilize those funds to help support other businesses in the community that were not fortunate enough to have access to capital," said Rudd.

With this grant opportunity, Rudd said he hopes it will help local Black companies fund their operations, sustainability, growth and success. He encouraged others to also support and invest in Black entrepreneurship.

"As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a kid.’ It takes a village to raise a kid and it takes a community to raise a business. So, I’m hopeful that others in the community will join me in this effort to raise up a lot of small Black-owned businesses that don’t have the access to capital and resources to help them advance their businesses," said Rudd.

Applications for the grant are open now through Sept. 20.

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