With restaurants and bars closed except for delivery, and many restaurants shut entirely, tens of thousands of NYC restaurant workers are out of work, and can’t wait weeks for money to pay the bills via NY State unemployment or the federal stimulus package.
Here’s what the NYC restaurant industry is doing to help, and how you can help support – literally – your favorite waiter, waitress, bartender and the kitchen staff.
More than twenty of New York City’s top restaurant groups have banded together to form a new hospitality organization called Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR)
The goal, according to Eater NY, is to organize relief efforts for laid off personnel and closed restaurants.
Founding members include chef Daniel Boulud’s the Dinex Group, Momofuku, Starr Restaurants, and Major Food Group, fast casual chain Dig, restaurateur Gabriel Stulman’s Happy Cooking Hospitality, Eataly, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant group, chef JJ Johnson’s casual enterprise FieldTrip, and more.
Thanks to Eater NY for this list. It’s a menu of choices.
Like government-issued war bonds, the Dining Bond Initiative seeks to bring in immediate cash in exchange for future restaurant purchases.
Diners can buy gift certificates sold at a 25 percent discount ($100 worth of food for a $75 bond) to be redeemed in the restaurant within the next month or two, depending on how individual restaurants decide to honor the bonds. The program is open to all restaurants.
The JBF Food and Beverage Relief Fund is gathering donations from everyday diners as well as corporate donors to distribute micro-grants to independent businesses.
Houston chef Chris Shepherd’s Southern Smoke Foundation is accepting donations from well-wishers and applications for funds from restaurants and restaurant employees.
Give Local and Local for Later are aggregating lists of restaurants promoting gift card sales while their doors are closed. Many restaurants are banking on gift cards to help defer costs until the pandemic subsides.
Chef José Andrés and WCK have already been pitching in on coronavirus relief, feeding quarantined cruise ship passengers, but the organization’s chefs need financial help to continue preparing meals for those in need during the crisis.
Help for Restaurant and Delivery Workers
The RWCF, which works across a number of labor issues in the restaurant industry, launched the RWCF COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
The fund collects donations to provide relief to individual workers affected by the coronavirus and to create zero-interest loans to businesses.
The OFW campaign, a nonprofit advocating against sub-minimum-wage laws for tipped restaurant workers, launched the OFW Emergency Fund.
The target $213,000 (based on the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13/hour) will provide immediate cash assistance to restaurant employees, delivery workers, and other tipped workers in the food industry.
Unite Here, a labor union representing groups in the U.S. and Canada, is collecting funds to help its 300,000 members with things like rent, groceries, health insurance, and lost wages.
The union represents other industries beyond food service, including hotels, airports, and casinos, but you can select a specific local group if you prefer to target your money to particular restaurant industry workers.
The nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United has set a target of $500,000 for its emergency relief fund, which seeks to help documented and undocumented restaurant workers who lose their jobs during the pandemic.
Spill The Dish offers a database of financial aid that combines donor funds with resources from government agencies and non-profits.
It allows users to search by state, and breaks down results for restaurant workers, business owners, and individual donors. Users can also add new donation programs to the database.
Help for Bars and Bartenders
The United States Bartenders Guild is helping bartenders affected by the virus through its emergency assistance program.
Jameson Irish Whiskey has pledged $500,000 toward the effort.
SipScience, an analytics company focused on the hospitality industry, has also launched a GoFundMe to raise $100,000 for the USBG National Charity Foundation.
Evelyn Kanter also is the author of several NYC and Hudson Valley guidebooks, including my latest, 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die.
Purchase autographed copies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org