March 19, 2020

We’re living in unprecedented times right now, and the hospitality industry is seeing the worst of it with forced closings due to the Covid-19 Virus. Our own clients have taken the necessary steps to move to either full closure or continue and expand pick-up and delivery services.

As in most difficult times, community takes over and we form a bond to help each other out.  We thought we would share some of the good that is going on in the Hospitality industry right now, and we hope it inspires you with ideas and ways to manage through this time of uncertainty.

  1. James Beard-Award Winning Chef Sarah Stegner set up a Cooking Tips Hotline to help people with cooking questions during the Covid19 crisis. The hotline for questions is staffed to help between 2pm and 4pm daily CST, at 847-920-8437.
    Prairie Grass Café, which she co-owns, is also offering curb-side service for to-go services in Chicago.
  1. Sage Restaurant Concepts unveiled its “Keep Calm and Carry Out” initiative geared to support local restaurants and those most in need. SRC is donating $1 for every carryout order called into any Sage Restaurant Concepts restaurant and other participating restaurant partners to Feeding America with local food banks supporting those most in need.
    Visit for full details of participating restaurants.
  1. In Seattle, fine dining establishment Canlis closed and in its place opened a breakfast bagel shed, a burger drive-thru for lunch and a dinner delivery service. Many restaurants across the U.S. are teaming up to do delivery and take out services and using their front of house staff to keep them employed in different roles.
  1. Grubhub/Seamless delivery services announced they will delay collecting commission fees as restaurants deal with Covid-19 and loss of in-store diners. The company is also setting up a fund for delivery drivers affected by the virus, using money from Grubhub’s Donate the Change program.
  1. New York State is allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcohol to-go understanding this is a large revenue generator, but the lockdown is a huge blow to New York City’s nightlife – reporting 300,000 workers earning $13 billion in salaries is affected by the Mayor’s office. See below for the fundraising activities that have already begun to support these workers – many that are not qualified for unemployment.

For those consumers and loyal customers looking to help, here’s what you can do:

  1. Buy Gift Cards at your favorite local establishments for when they reopen giving them funds today to pay bills and staff.
  1. Tip higher than normal for all your deliveries and pick up items
  1. Try to take out at least a few times a week if your own financials support it.

For those businesses seeing a surge in ecommerce business and experiencing a stronger demand on your distribution centers:

  1. Reach out to your community businesses and see where you can employ these hard-working people for the interim until their own busineses reopen

We are all in this together.  Community is important.  Resources for our Hospitality community are being formed daily.

In response to the crisis, there are a number of programs, grants and resources from community level to government relief taking shape.  Updates are on the Hospitality Industry Alliance/COVID-19 Facebook groupbut here are few below.

  • One Fair Wage launched an emergency fund to support tipped workers and service workers affected by Covid19 and the economy.
  • Rethink, a NYC based non profit working to recover nutritious excess food to provide low to no-costs meals to NYC families in need has launched the Rethink Restaurant Response Program offering operators and restaurant workers jobs at their Brooklyn Navy Yard location to cook and prepare meals.  Restaurants can apply to become a Rethink partner.  Each restaurant will receive $40K grant to stay afloat.  Rethink’s CEO stated “Restaurants will become distribution arms for Rethink” during this time.
  • NYC Hospitality Alliance is keeping restaurants updated on resources and unemployment insurance benefits. The 7 day waiting period has been waived.
  • Restaurant Workers’ community foundation has formed a Crisis Relief Fund for restaurant workers and small business owners.
  • USBG National Charity Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to the service industry and is now accepting applications to assist bartenders, their spouses and children.
  • National Restaurant Association has a COVID 19 page on its website – they are working with state governments to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses.


Food & Wine by Andrea Strong March 16, 2020
Eater Chicago, New York
FSR Online Magazine Industry News March 16, 2020
NYS Small Business Website