7 Restaurant Relief Programs and Resources to Offset COVID-19 Impact

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Restaurants and those in the hospitality business are some of the hardest-hit industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Transaction data from one of the nation’s largest payment processors, Shift4 Payments, shows steep declines in transaction volume for restaurants and hotels since the beginning of February.

While this may be a bitter pill to swallow, it’s not all negative news. Professionals in these industries are some of the most resilient and close-knit groups of people, so it comes as no surprise that they’re pulling together in a time of need.

From entrepreneurs and associations to celebrity chefs and corporations, see how industry professionals are pooling their resources to bring relief to small businesses and their employees.

1. Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF)

Guy Fieri, the well-known restaurateur has teamed up with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to launch the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF). Through this extraordinary hardship, the fund will distribute a one-time, $500 endowment to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The grants will be awarded as soon as possible to bring immediate relief to individuals that meet the eligibility criteria as reviewed and verified by the NRAEF. Restaurant staff impacted by the coronavirus are encouraged to apply for financial aid online. Additionally, the fund is open to the public for donations, of which 100 percent of the proceeds will go to those in need.

2. Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC)

Around mid-March, independent chefs and restaurants organized to form the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC). The mission of the IRC is to save local restaurants affected by COVID-19 by providing people with the resources and voice to do so.

Restaurant employees roughly 11 million people are employed by restaurants, and those restaurants represent 4 percent of the Nation’s GDP. Joining the coalition is free of charge, and gives you access to critical updates, social media toolkits, as well as allowing you to be part of the united voice to speak to lawmakers and the media.

3. Shift4 Cares

Shift4 Payments, the Allentown based payments company, recently launched its #Shift4Cares campaign to help bring relief to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Through Shift4Cares.com, you can purchase gift cards to your favorite local restaurants, and Shift4 will donate an additional five percent of your purchase to that business. Shift4’s goal is to raise over $200 million for those affected and to pledge $10 million of their money to support the cause.

By designing the campaign around the purchase and use of gift cards, Shift4 can provide immediate revenue and relief to these businesses when they need it the most. Not only is this providing quick assistance to small businesses, but it’s also a pledge for customers to revisit their favorite spots once they reopen.


4. The Virtual Tip Jar

As legislation forces restaurants to shut down their dine-in operations and pivot to takeout and delivery only, servers and bartenders don’t have the same opportunities to receive much-needed tips.

In response to this issue, Sam Schutte, entrepreneur and CEO of Unstoppable Software created a virtual tip jar as a way to help employees at his favorite restaurants. As bars and restaurants across America began to close, and countless service industry workers suddenly laid off, Sam knew he could help.

The virtual tip jar is the world’s largest spreadsheet. Using Google Sheets to create a living document, it lists employee names, place of employment, and their PayPal or Venmo information. Funds go straight to your favorite bartender or server, straight up.

5. The Great American Takeout

Another great campaign rapidly gaining awareness is The Great American Takeout. Every Tuesday since inception on March 24th, The Great American Takeout is encouraging Americans to order takeout or delivery from their favorite restaurants. Those who want to participate are asked to share their orders on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #thegreatamericantakeout.

Shift4 Payments has also hopped on board with this campaign to offer one lucky winner $5,000 to use at their favorite restaurants in alignment with their campaign, Shift4 Cares. It’s simple, customers give back to their communities by ordering takeout or delivery, spread awareness by sharing on social media, and get entered for a chance to win free takeout for a year.

6. Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE)

Since 2004, the non-profit Children Of Restaurant Employees (CORE), supports families in the food and beverage industry that are enduring a life-altering event. Such events include but are not limited to an injury or accident, death of an immediate family member, or a child or parent diagnosed with a medical condition. CORE provides financial assistance to cover medical bills, groceries, utilities, rent or mortgage payments, and other essentials a family may need.

In the midst of the coronavirus climate, CORE continues their mission by providing financial assistance to those diagnosed with COVID-19, or living with someone that has been diagnosed with the virus.

7. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

The United States House of Representatives passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT) on March 27th, 2020. This $2.2 trillion relief fund is the largest passed in U.S. history, aiming to provide relief for Americans and businesses due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The CARES Act aims to provide medical assistance to first responders and patients, monetary aid to those who have lost their jobs, relief to businesses that are forced to shutter, and direct assistance to states to provide essential services.

  • What this means for taxpayers: Qualifying, taxpaying Americans will receive a $1,200 payment to provide some relief to those struggling financially during this crisis.

  • What this means for small business owners: Under the CARES Act, the Payment Protection Program allocates $350 billion to small businesses to cover the cost of employee payroll.


Closing Thoughts

As the restaurant and hospitality industries look towards better times in the future, these initiatives will provide some much-needed relief for their current struggles. That special restaurant that was a part of your fondest memories needs your help now more than ever. If you’re in a position to donate to any of these programs, your generosity will bring them one step closer to ensuring their future.

About the Author

Editorial Team

PointOfSale.com is a leading industry news site for the point of sale and payments industry. We are also the go-to resource for small business owners that want expert tips and inspiration on how to run a successful business. Collectively, our team of experts has decades of POS, payments, and small business experience.