A Williamsport business owner is a recipient of a $2,500 grant award from the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, which recently doled out up to $200,000 in grants to smaller businesses that battled through the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to serve their customers.
Lisa A. Lusk, owner of Maseto’s Deli at 2075 Kenwood Ave. in Old Lycoming Township, said she was thrilled to hear about the grant, and she will be using the money for the restaurant expenses and to give raises to her loyal staff at the bustling restaurant, which is frequented by repeat customers.
As a member of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, Lusk said she first received notice of the grant applications in October and submitted her business for consideration.
Lusk said she found out in December that she was among the multiple small restaurant owners who would be receiving a prestigious award.
“It is not a lot, but it makes a difference,” said Laurie White, executive director of the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, which meets annually in Philadelphia.
“We wanted to do what we could for these women business owners,” White said.
Many, White noted, are struggling or facing challenges to “hang on” through the pandemic.
It was important for the conference to give back to these small businesses which might not have access to other capital.
The need is heart-breaking and regrettable, but it is hoped the awarded grants will help toward keeping the lights on and paying the bills and employees, White explained.
For her part, Lusk said she’s owned and operated the restaurant since Dec. 20, 2019, but worked at the restaurant since 2005 doing various work such as cooking and other things that make the restaurant the special place it is.
In terms of small businesses, restaurants that are owned by women in Lycoming County, Lusk said she’d appreciate it more.
“I would like to see more women-owned small businesses,” she said, adding that it is a segment of society that is under-represented.
“Maybe a women-owned business directory could be produced and be made available,” she said.
At Maseto’s Deli, the food is the draw.
Prepared fresh every day, it is made from scratch, and the atmosphere is quaint and bustling with many repeat customers, and a location right off Dewey Avenue and Route 15 that attracts those driving by.
“We get to know the customers, and they get to know the employees,” she said.
Moreover, to keep the restaurant strong, Lusk said the employees — at this time about seven — are considered to be her family, as are the customers.
During the pandemic, Maseto’s Deli adjusted to the need to continue to provide these homemade meals and specialties. Lusk acknowledged there was a visible uptick in the amount of take-out orders, which helped to keep the restaurant busy and capital flowing in.
The Pennsylvania Conference of Women is proud to serve up grants to support women-owned restaurants for the second consecutive year.
This year, 80 women-owned restaurants throughout Pennsylvania were awarded with $2,500 grants — totaling $200,000.
Sponsors and attendees help to make these grants possible, as well as the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, which administers them.
For White, each month forward as the nation emerges from the pandemic is a step in the right direction.
The annual conference in Philadelphia is going to have a combined digital and in-person format, she said.
“It was just a small piece of what we can do to give back and to help,” she said.