COVID-19 Aid and Resources for Restaurant and Bar Owners and Workers

With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to the closing of many bars and restaurants across the U.S. and elsewhere, the hospitality industry, along with the lives of the workers within it, is changing in unprecedented ways. We’ve compiled the most up-to-date information and resources available and will continue to update this post as events unfold.

If you would like to share information with us about a relief fund or resource, please send us an email at drink@thirstymag.com.

How to Help

Please contact your local lawmakers to impress upon them the need to take immediate action to help the hospitality industry. Possibilities include postponing taxes due, relaxing any off-premise sale or delivery laws, straight-up bailouts and other measures.

If you’re unaffected by the crisis and have a reliable income, please consider donating to one of the following causes that promise to provide assistance to industry folks who need it.

  • USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program COVID-19 Relief Campaign
  • Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund
  • One Fair Wage Emergency Fund
  • Another Round Another Rally
  • Restaurant Strong Fun
  • The James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund
  • Hospitality Relief Dashboard rounds up relief funds
  • A constantly updated list of GoFundMes for service workers, organized by area
  • A spreadsheet of GoFundMes for restaurant and bar employees, organized by Michael Toscano
  • Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund
  • Hook Hall Helps via the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s Coronavirus Worker Relief Fund
  • Charlottesville Restaurant Community Fund offers grants of $200 to restaurant industry workers needing assistance.
  • New Orleans Bartender Tip Party lists Venmo accounts of New Orleans-area bartenders.
  • Cocktail Kingdom launched a Branded Bar T-Shirt Fundraising Campaign for more than 30 participating cocktail bars around the U.S.; all proceeds from the t-shirts purchased go directly the individual bar and its staff.You can also support your local bars and restaurants by ordering takeout or delivery, if they offer it. (Remember to tip the delivery workers well.) You can also help keep them going by purchasing merchandise such as T-shirts or totes or buying gift certificates to spend once the immediate crisis has passed; many restaurants are participating in the Dining Bonds program, offering gift certificates that are sold at a suggested price of 25% less than face value, but redeemable at face value upon dining at the restaurant (which is to say, you can purchase a $100 gift certificate for just $75).

Resources for Bars and Bartenders

  • The USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program is offering grants to bartenders affected by the virus. You do not need to be a USBG member to apply.
  • For those in the food service industry, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund will offer grants to individual workers affected by the virus and zero-interest loans to businesses.
    Also for food service industry workers, One Fair Wage has launched an Emergency Fund to provide immediate assistance to restaurant employees.
  • Another Round Another Rally offers $500 relief grants for hospitality workers who lost their jobs or had their hours cut because of the virus.
  • The Restaurant Strong Fund from Samuel Adams and The Greg Hill Foundation offers grants to restaurant workers affected by the virus.
  • Tobin Ellis’ Hospitality Relief Dashboard rounds up hundreds of resources for hospitality professionals.
    CORE offers assistance to service industry workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have a child living in their home.
  • The Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund will assist service industry workers in the Seattle area who have been laid off or had their hours cut because of the virus.
  • The Southern Smoke Foundation in Texas is offering emergency aid for food and beverage industry workers in crisis.
  • The Giving Kitchen offers assistance grants for Georgia food industry workers with documented illness (including COVID-19) or other significant hardships.
  • Many workers may qualify for unemployment benefits. Check your information by state.
  • The NYC Employee Retention Grant Program will provide aid to small businesses located in the five boroughs of New York City that employ fewer than five people and have experienced at least a 25% decrease in revenue because of the virus. Eligible businesses will receive a grant covering up to 40% of their payroll for two months, up to $27,000 total.
  • The Facebook Small Business Grants Program is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. Facebook says details will be available soon.
  • Beverage Trade Network is asking industry business owners to complete a survey about business plans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who complete the survey will receive a report about the results.
  • The NYC Hospitality Alliance has put together a Restaurant Rescue and Save Nightlife Plan to support the city’s vital hospitality industry and asks that hospitality industry workers contact their elected officials to ask them to support the plan.
  • The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed to save local restaurants affected by COVID-19. It promises a united voice to speak directly to lawmakers making timely decisions about the fate of the restaurant industry, a daily briefing about key legislative updates and a social media call-to-action.

In addition to the relief funds and grants available for industry workers, brands are donating cash to bartender and restaurant support funds, such as the United States Bartenders Guild and Restaurant Workers’ Community Fundbrands. Brands and businesses are also getting creative with marketing strategies, pivoting to help bartenders on a personal level. They are buying meals, hiring bartenders for one-off campaigns, funding branded take-out cocktails and hosting cocktail competitions and virtual happy hours all with the goal to put money directly in bartender’s pockets. Another spate of brands are veering to making hand sanitizer, doling out bottles to restaurant workers and hospital staff.

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