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How Restaurant Owners are Supporting Their Employees Right Now

These NYC business owners are doing everything they can to pay their staffs during lockdown.
tip jar

Roughly 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—the highest number since October, 1982, when 695,000 Americans filed claims.

The hospitality industry is among the largest group of the working class that make up that number. On March 18, the leading labor union for hospitality workers said it expects 80 to 90 percent of  its 300,000 members to lose their jobs.

Even more devastating is the number of jobs in the restaurant industry that are projected to be lost. The National Restaurant Association predicts 5 to 7 million restaurant workers will be out of a job as a result of this pandemic.

In light of these every-changing, unprecedented times, local restaurants owners in and around New York City are doing everything they can to support their staff members financially.

Here are seven small business owners that are making efforts to continue giving their employees some type of income, and exactly how they're doing so:

1

Loquito: Hoboken, New Jersey

Chef Stephen El-Hassan, owner of Lebanese taqueria Loquito and bagel shop O'Bagel in Hoboken, New Jersey is making sure his staff is taken care of during this challenging time. At Loquito, he is offering a special quarantine menu which includes a bowl with seasoned rice, shredded lettuce, and your choice of either chicken, avocado falafel, or chipotle mushrooms among other ingredients. He is selling this meal for just $7.95 and all money from sales will go straight to his staff.

At O'Bagel, El-Hassan will donate a dozen bagels to local medical professionals as well as those who work in the police force and at the fire department for every dozen bagels you order online. Way to go Stephen!

RELATED: Yelp Is Providing $25 Million in Relief to Local Restaurants and Bars Right Now.

2

Speedy Romeo Pizza: Brooklyn, New York

 

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As you all know Covid-19 has demanded all restaurants to shudder or resort to delivery only. Unfortunately we had to lay off the 95% of our staff during these troubling times. Speedy Romeo started to build roots in Clinton Hill Brooklyn in 2012 and in the Lower East Side in 2016. We are so grateful for all the support you have given us through out the years and helping us create an institution in NYC. Our staff is in dire need of help. We look forward to the day when our doors are open to the public again but in these uncertain times, your continued support would be so gratefully appreciated. We did everything we could to take care of our 50 employees after layoffs, and of course, it's going to be far from enough. Please help us reach our goal. 100% of donations go directly to our team. If you can give something in this time, it would mean the world to all of us. The link is in our bio. If you can or can not give, please share this post with others to help us spread the word. Stay Safe! Love, Team Speedy ❤️

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The owners of Speedy Romeo Pizza in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn and Lower East Side, Manhattan need your help. As articulated in the restaurant's Instagram post, 95 percent of staff between both locations was laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We did everything we could to take care of our 50 employees after layoffs, and of course, it's going to be far from enough. Please help us reach our goal."

The restaurant set up a Go Fund Me page to help support its staff, with 100 percent of donations going directly to team members. So far the restaurant has raised over $4,500.

3

Lighthouse: Brooklyn, New York

The Lighthouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn set up a Venmo account dedicated to supporting its staff during this time. Aside from donations, proceeds from purchasing gift cards or ordering takeout and delivery on Seamless will go to employees.

4

The West Coffeehouse: Brooklyn, New York

 

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Help support our staff directly with a virtual tip – link on website above & come by for take out drinks.

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Think about your local coffee shop that you always frequent. They always provide you with your favorite cup of joe, and now may be the best time to show them a little love in return by offering a generous tip. The West in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has a walk-up window that you can order food and beverages—lattes and cocktails and all—from. In addition to ordering grub and drink, you can send a tip to The West Digital Tip Jar exclusively for the staff via Venmo.

5

Cote Korean Steakhouse: New York, New York

 

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Dear Friends and Family,⁣ ⁣ Since Cote opened its doors in 2017, the community has shown us so much love…and on Monday, due to the strong direction of the CDC and our local government's mandate, we had to make the difficult decision to temporarily close the restaurant: a community of around 100 employees. It is these very employees who make Cote everything that we know it to be. ⁣ ⁣ As we finished our final service on Sunday, we gathered every team member and thanked them for their loyalty and promised them that this is not the end. We also made a commitment to support every full-time employee with $200 a week and every part-time employee $100 a week for as long as the restaurant could afford it. We also promised we would not leave anyone behind. It may not sound like a lot, but this amounts to $18,000+ per week, and while we are doing everything in our power to sustain it and keep the restaurant alive, it has become abundantly clear that we will not be able to continue for very long. As this crisis unfolds with no end in sight, the only thing I can do as the head of the operation is to ask for more help. ⁣ ⁣ We have already received so much support from every one of you in the form of gift card purchases, steak care packages, love and encouragement. We are grateful beyond words. In light of this, I hesitated to post this plea as it did not seem sensible, but the truth is, these are not sensible times. I am pleading on behalf of my staff, who showed up at Cote through rain or shine, and who will return once it's safe for us to reopen our doors. They need your help now more than ever. ⁣ ⁣ If you have the ability to donate, 100% of every dollar raised through this platform will be paid directly to all 87 of our laid-off team members, including those who do not qualify for unemployment. This will directly sustain our effort to continue mailing them weekly checks and providing additional emergency assistance including care packages, food and water to those who need it most.⁣ ⁣ Thank you, thank you, thank you for your love and generosity. Please stay safe and well. We can't wait to serve you all again. ⁣You can access the link in our bio. ⁣ Simon Kim⁣ Proprietor

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Cote in Manhattan, New York closed shop on Sunday, which means all 87 employees were laid off. Still, management is doing what they can to make sure their staff receives some income during this time, but that isn't enough.

"We also made a commitment to support every full-time employee with $200 a week and every part-time employee $100 a week for as long as the restaurant could afford it. We also promised we would not leave anyone behind. It may not sound like a lot, but this amounts to $18,000+ per week, and while we are doing everything in our power to sustain it and keep the restaurant alive, it has become abundantly clear that we will not be able to continue for very long."

The restaurant has set up a Go Fund Me account to help support its staff, with all donations going directly to the near 100 team members who, for now, can't look forward to a weekly paycheck.

6

Melba's: Manhattan, New York

 

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Reposted from @thenycalliance We conducted a survey of 1,870 restaurants, bars & nightclubs in NYC that reported 67,650 laid off or furloughed employees since the government mandated closure. If this survey only reflects only 2,000 restaurants/bars you can only imagine what this number looks like with all 25,000+ establishments! We NEED #RestaurantRescue & we must #SaveNightlife. Tag, share, spread the word! Also, take a look at our #RestaurantRescuePlan & #SaveNightlifePlan linked in our bio to see our advocacy efforts to save our industry. • • • • • • • • • • • • • #restaurantrescue #nightlife #savenightlife #saveourbars #nycrestaurants #NYC #NYCHospitality #NYCHospitalityAlliance #NYCnightlife #SmallBizSOS #RestaurantRecovery #COVID19 – #regrann

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According to the Infatuation, Melba's Restaurant in Harlem, Manhattan for the first time ever is offering delivery, making its southern comfort food available to all in the area. Ordering mac and cheese and wine-braised short ribs will enable employees to still receive some income during this time.

7

Adda Indian Canteen: Queens, New York

 

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Staff Support Fund = Please Donate (link in bio) Dear all, We need your help in this time of crisis! We still can't believe that less than a week ago we had no idea of the level of disruption that COVID-19 virus would bring upon us. In the last few years, we created three restaurants, Adda, Rahi, and Masalawala with a team of 100+ members, but never faced something of this magnitude with so many unknowns. The biggest impact is being felt by our restaurant staff that has served us unwaveringly over the years but now have nowhere to turn. We already have let go of our management salaries and made significant cuts in all areas, but it all seems to be a drop in the bucket given the scale of the challenge. These people are the engine of not just our restaurants, but the New York dining scene. Everything that we are today is due to the passion, grit, and leadership of these individuals. We simply cannot sit back and let them fall through the cracks at a time when they need us most. Therefore, we are setting up a support fund where our friends, family, and patrons can come together and donate to help the staff in need. PS – For anyone donating $100 or more, we will create a special wallpaper with each of your names and/or images that will go on one of the walls of Adda and a special cocktail at Rahi. For $1000+ a meal for two at Rahi is on us. For $5000+ or more a special 7-course meal for 4 at Rahi. All donations come with socially distanced hugs. PPS – These pictures are from our 2 year anniversary of Rahi and the Holiday Party of 2019. Let's get past this and create even better memories. Thank you all, Roni Mazumdar & Chintan Pandya

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In Long Island City, Queens, Adda Indian Canteen is one of three restaurants (Rahi and Masalawala are also under the same management) that has let go of management salaries and made significant cuts in its budget in response to its temporary closure. With over 100 people out of work, management has set up a support fund on Go Fund Me asking community members to help out.

"Everything that we are today is due to the passion, grit, and leadership of these individuals. We simply cannot sit back and let them fall through the cracks at a time when they need us most. Therefore, we are setting up a support fund where our friends, family, and patrons can come together and donate to help the staff in need."

Additionally, Adda teamed up with Off Their Plate and World Central Kitchen to provide meals for frontline healthcare providers and hospitality workers in NYC. Last night, restaurant staff served meals to those working at NYU Langone Health and tonight they will be serving meals to staff at Elmhurst Hospital.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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