Local Independent Restaurants Rally To Support Laid-off Workers

Mar 23, 2020


As restaurants shutter their dining rooms, a few local chefs and business owners are devising new ways to support laid off line cooks, servers, and kitchen staff. 

In a matter of days, dozens of restaurants quickly pivoted to online ordering and “contactless” delivery options.  Countless others closed up shop.  That’s the case for restaurant owners, like Katie Button. On instagram Friday, she announced the closures of her two restaurants, Curate and Buttons Bagels, leading her to lay off 140 employees. 


That’s just a snapshot of COVID-19’s impact on restaurants nationwide. The Independent Restaurant Coalition estimates more than 7 million jobs have been lost.  That organization launched a campaign and hashtag #SaveRestaurants, calling on lawmakers to give immediate support to laid off industry workers, including unemployment benefits and waiving the payroll tax. The campaign was widely circulated on instagram accounts of chefs, bartenders, down the chain of food industry workers and suppliers over the weekend.  

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is keeping an updated list of establishments that are offering pick up and delivery. The overwhelming response from people in the business is to “support the restaurants that remain open.”

And for those who are without a job, customers are being encouraged to keep filling the tip jar -- from a safe distance. OWL Bakery in West Asheville, for instance, set up an online staff donation fund

The Montford cafe All Day Darling says it’s about to launch discounted to-go meals for laid off workers. 

Surveys of hourly wage workers say as high as 78-percent live paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet. 

Those in hard-hit industry seem determined to stay afloat.There’s another hashtag trending on food industry social media -- #TooSmalltoFail.