LOS ANGELES - Microdonors and other fundraising efforts by celebrities and big businesses have been helping struggling Los Angeles restaurant owners during the pandemic.
Matthew Roth, who is an unemployed waiter, received $1,200 in assistance from the fundraising. In an Instagram post, Roth expressed his gratitude, saying "I can’t put into words how much I am in shock and how much I needed that, it means the world. Thank you so much."
Like so many in the restaurant industry, Roth has basically been unemployed since March, but thanks to celebrity chef Andrew Gruel, the waiter can now pay a couple of bills.
The Gruels have raised nearly $200,000 on GoFundMe to help laid-off restaurant workers. On the fundraising page, Gruel writes that restaurants in the U.S. are in an "economic free fall" amid the ongoing spike in coronavirus cases and the forced shutdowns with 10,000 establishments around the country having closed temporarily or permanently since the start of September alone. This has left thousands of restaurant workers struggling to survive. In the absence of any government relief, it is incumbent on us within the community to help one another.
Gruel explains that all of the funds raised will be distributed directly to restaurant workers who have either lost their job or are in need of a small leg-up to cover rent payments, medical bills, childcare, or any other day-to-day help.
Andrew Gruel, Celebrity Chef
Gruel tells FOX 11, "People giving $10, $15, $20. A lot of the people that are giving us the money, they’re telling us 'we’re struggling, we can’t pay bills', but we know that our $20 is going to help this cause get to the next level, and it’s going to be more valuable than anything we can do and we’ll figure out how to get by."
Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports, has raised more than $16 million to help small businesses around the country.
And Skechers, headquartered in Manhattan Beach, launched a matching grant program to help struggling, locally-owned restaurants.
Meanwhile, iconic Pink’s Hot Dogs in Hollywood has decided to close Monday until at least March, not for financial reasons, but in an effort to help protect its staff and customers.
Pink's Hot Dogs
In an interview on Good Day LA, Richard Pink said, "With the hospitals overflowing the way they are, with the shortage of beds in ICU’s, this is not a time to worry about business. It’s time for everybody to stay safe."
Businesses that don’t have that option are hoping they can survive this crisis, perhaps with a little help from people like Gruel and everyone who’s opened their hearts to donate.
Laid off restaurant workers who want to apply or for those who want to donate should visit Gruel's GoFundMe page.