As cities like Atlanta suspend dine-in service and takeout and delivery become the new reality for restaurants, owners and chefs, the Georgia Restaurant Association, and state and local legislators are pushing for financial assistance and relief for the state’s restaurant industry.
Community-led fundraising efforts are also underway, with calls for monetary donations, food, and freelance work opportunities on behalf of Atlanta’s restaurant and bar employees caught up in the tidal wave of COVID-19-based closures.
GoFundMe campaigns are popping up daily on restaurant social media pages. Virtual tip jars through pay apps like Venmo and Paypal have been established. Huge crowdsourced donations from diners have been provided to the staffs of their favorite establishments, like at Buckhead Italian restaurant La Grotta. Customers there purchased over $50,000 worth of gift cards, with proceeds going to the restaurant’s employees.
Atlantans are also donating in record numbers to organizations such as Giving Kitchen and the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
One such grassroots effort comes from former Atlanta resident Adam Darby, who now resides in Nairobi. Darby lived in Atlanta for 20 years, where he worked in IT and moonlighted as a DJ at restaurants and bars around the city. He says he began flagging Facebook posts this week from friends asking for donations after their bar or restaurant suddenly closed, leaving them without a job.
Darby quickly created a searchable database called Relief Atlanta, which lists bars and restaurants with links to donation pages. The site currently lists over 40 bars and restaurants, and a handful of entertainment venues and organizations.
“I had the thought that there are people out there that don’t know how or where to donate to their favorite restaurants’ employees, so I threw the site together,” Darby tells Eater Atlanta. “I know so many of these restaurant owners and workers, that I HAD to do something to help out.”
He plans to continue adding to the database.
Like Darby, Julie Skinner of Root Kitchens felt compelled to act. She created a crowdsourced spreadsheet to track Atlanta restaurants and bars offering gift cards and merch. Skinner’s spreadsheet also includes tabs for fundraisers, community service projects, and curbside and delivery options.
If you know of other grassroots fundraising efforts underway on behalf of Atlanta area restaurant and bar workers, please send Eater the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the fundraisers and payment apps listed have been shared by official social media pages or known representatives of respective restaurants, Eater cannot guarantee each restaurant will use the money as they say they will.
NOTE: The novel coronavirus situation in Georgia is fluid and ongoing. Follow Eater Atlanta for continuing coverage on COVID-19’s impact on Atlanta’s restaurant industry. Additional stories are forthcoming.
Check the Georgia Department of Public Health website for further guidance and updates on COVID-19.