Restaurants raise $10,000 in 24 hours to help out-of-work employees

Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 19, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- EAT Restaurant Partners is one of Richmond's largest and most successful restaurant groups. But it was no match for coronavirus.

When Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered restaurants to limit patrons to 10 or less, EAT Restaurant Partners closed the dining rooms to restaurants like Boulevard Burger & Brew and Wong Gonzalez and pivoted to a drive-up and to-go order model.

That meant telling some 500 workers, across more than a dozen restaurants, they no longer had jobs.

"It’s hard to hear and accept," EAT Restaurant Partners Director of Hospitality and Marketing Chris Staples said. "They know we are doing everything we can. It was a last option to make that tough decision."

Staples said these unprecedented times called for drastic measures. He helped set-up a crowdfunding site to aide his laidoff employees.

In one day, it helped raise $10,000.

"All gratuities collected are going directly to that fund," he said. "So far we’ve seen an enormous show of support. We couldn’t be more appreciative of that."

Other restaurant groups have gone a similar route.

RVA Hospitality, owners of Tarrant's Café, Tarrant's West, Bar Solita, and Max's On Broad, also has a GoFundMe.

Hiring Restaurant Workers

As Richmond-area restaurant workers lose their jobs, other businesses are stepping up to hire the unemployed.

Companies like Walmart, Costco, Amazon, and Kroger are looking to staff up.

In addition to hiring laid-off restaurant workers, Staples said customers should continue supporting their favorite restaurants.

"Continue to place take out orders," Staples said. "We are doing the no contact, to go, and the delivery options through our 3rd party services like Door Dash. So, continue to support all restaurants in Richmond."