COVID-19 pandemic

As of May 28, 2021, the Paycheck Protection Program has run out of funding. You can learn more about the PPP with our COVID-19 resource hub.

Do you want to help your favorite restaurants and other types of hospitality businesses make it through the COVID-19 pandemic and related financial crisis? Who doesn’t!

The owners of small businesses, especially restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, and the people who work for them, are the family we choose. We couldn’t wait to see them, until we weren’t allowed to visit — or do business — with them any more.

  • They always have a badly needed cup of coffee ready and waiting just the way you like it.
  • They make the perfect pizza without needing to be told how.
  • They play counselor and have the ideal cocktail ready at the end of a tough day.

In return, they depended on us for their livelihoods. That is, until the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended, and the United States government mandated, social distancing that took it all away.

Here are some ways to pay back the local businesses you value so they know how much you appreciate them. It will help ensure they’ll be there when the coronavirus crisis is over.

Tip: Don’t forget to check a venue’s website or social media sites — or do a Google search — to find out if they’ve created an employee relief fund. It’s the best way to give directly to them, ensuring your cash goes to the people you care about.

Another Round, Another Rally (ARAR) shines a light on small business workers

ARAR provides scholarships and grants to underrepresented groups in the hospitality industry. The organization has shifted its focus during the COVID-19 crisis and is collecting funds and distributing them through $500 grants to workers affected by COVID-19.

Dining Bond Initiative helps invest in the future during the pandemic

Much like the bonds governments issue during wars, the Dining Bond Initiative helps restaurants bring in cash during the current difficult times for meals that will be enjoyed later. Diners can buy “bonds” sold at a 25 percent discount. They can be redeemed at the restaurant in the future for full value when the threat of the public health crisis is reduced.

For example, a $75 bond will get you $100 worth of food. The website includes an interactive map to find participating restaurants all over the globe. This program is a win-win for customers and restaurants. Restaurant owners get cash when they need it most. Diners get a significant discount on meals during tough times.

Tip: A great way to support your favorite restaurants is to order takeout with curbside delivery — or buy gift cards. It helps with cash flow when they need it most.

Go Tip Em transforms coronavirus cocktails into charitable social media events

Are you enjoying a cocktail or two some evenings during the COVID pandemic? Many people are! Simply share a photo of your cocktail via social media. Then use the Go Tip Em website to tip your favorite bartender or waiter — or a random someone you select from their list.

Remember: It’s time to tip like your server’s life depends on it. That’s because it’s true for frontline workers during the coronavirus outbreak. Give them a little extra if you can afford it.

James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund commits to coronavirus relief

The mission of the James Beard Foundation is to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone.

For more than 30 years the organization has celebrated food and made it a central part of American life. It is continuing its support of restaurants through its industry relief fund. The goal is to provide financial help to small, independent restaurants that need support to make it through the coronavirus crisis. The hope is to prevent as many as possible from going out of business.

The website provides information about how money will be used, answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) and makes it easy to make a donation.

Remember: Say “thank you.” It’s not just good manners. It also helps stressed small business owners and employees who are worried about their futures feel valued.

Rally for Restaurants spreads the word about supporting local businesses

This website makes it easy to find restaurants in your area and connect you with them. You can support them by ordering takeout or purchasing gift cards. Once you’re done, you can share the news on social media and encourage your friends to help out as well. The site also provides restaurants with information about government small business loans and other stimulus support.

Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF) supports frontline workers

The RWCF is an advocacy organization created by and for restaurant workers. It recently launched the RWCF COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The fund uses donations to provide relief to individual workers affected by COVID-19 and to offer zero interest loans to businesses.

The website includes valuable information for restaurant personnel and accepts donations for its relief fund.

Southern Smoke Foundation provides a proven way to help small businesses

If you’re looking for an organization with a track record to donate to, Southern Smoke is it. Chris Shepherd launched it in 2015 after finding out his friend and former sommelier Antonio Gianola had multiple sclerosis. Since then, the charity has donated more than three quarters of a million dollars to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In 2017, Southern Smoke shifted its focus. It provided help to people in the food and beverage industry impacted by Hurricane Harvey. It has since expanded on that by creating an emergency fund for vulnerable chefs, servers, bartenders, dish washers, somaliers and others.

Now there are more people needing help than ever before. Since the coronavirus crisis started, the Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund has distributed more than $1.2 million to people in need.

The website provides complete information about the organization and makes it simple to donate money.

Unite Here Education and Support Fund provides help for workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic

Unite Here is a labor union representing 300,000 members in the food service, hotel, casino and airport sectors in the United States and Canada. It is accepting online donations to help members impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic pay for things like rent, groceries, health insurance and lost wages.

World Central Kitchen (WCK) extends its reach into COVID-19 support

José Andrés is famous for stepping in whenever there is a food-related crisis. The latest initiative of his World Central Kitchen organization is Chefs for America. The program distributes individually packaged fresh meals to people in communities that need help. WCK is working in dozens of cities across the United States, providing nearly 200,000 meals daily.

The service is of most value to seniors who are scared and isolated, children who aren’t getting fed at schools and hospital workers who are putting in endless hours in stressful conditions.

The program is also good news for independent restaurants that are closed for business. It’s using them — and the people who work for them — to prepare meals and deliver them. This is a godsend for restaurant workers and drivers who desperately need to earn livings. WCK is also using its experience in breaking down supply chain issues to get food to people who really need it.

The World Central Kitchen website explains everything the organization does and accepts donations to continue its important work through the COVID-19 outbreak.

Finally… Provide financial guidance and advice

Some restauranteurs and other small business owners may not be aware of things like the Cares Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and other assistance programs available through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Direct them to the SBA.gov website to find out about SBA loan opportunities and other relief programs.

In addition, they may not know they could qualify for microloans and other state and local loan programs, along with debt relief developed to help local small businesses make it through the COVID-19 crisis. Tell them to connect with their chamber of commerce and small business development center to learn the latest about additional resources and economic development programs they should take advantage of.

It will help ensure they’ll be there when you need them after the stay at home orders are relaxed.

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