These restaurants and organizations are providing discounted or free meals to members of the restaurant community, which has been hit especially hard by closures during the pandemic. For a list of groups offering monetary relief, check our story on how to help Texas restaurants and bars.
Chef Shawn Cirkiel’s restaurants Parkside, Backspace, Olive & June, Jugo, and Vamonos are all offering meals at a 50 percent discount to hospitality workers who have been laid off because of the coronavirus. Each restaurant is offering to-go and delivery to all customers through its website and third-party delivery apps, and each has a different cuisine. Hospitality workers, though, should call the desired restaurant to order.
A part of the Dallas-based 8020 Concepts is a DFW restaurant group founded in 2013 that owns HG Sply Co., Standard Service, and Hero. While the restaurant dining rooms have been shut down, the hospitality group has left the kitchens open to launch the Everybody Eats campaign. It provides free meals, depending on available food supplies, to Dallas-area families or individuals who have been laid off or displaced because of the virus. See the website for specifics. Those who want to donate or sponsor the initiative, as well as those who are seeking assistance, are encouraged to do so through the website.
This is a new concept from Front Burner Restaurants, the Dallas-area hospitality group that owns Whiskey Cake, Legacy Hall, Mexican Sugar, and Sixty Vines. The company has collaborated with Vestals Catering and City Square, a local nonprofit dedicated to improving the effects of poverty, to create Furlough Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant in Dallas. The nonprofit is serving meals through curbside pickup to hospitality workers who are out of work or have been furloughed due to the pandemic. It is providing 1,000 meals per day from a menu that changes daily and can be found on the Furlough Kitchen Instagram page. The Dallas location at 4318 Eastside Avenue is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and another location is coming soon to Waco. Furlough Kitchen is also accepting donations that will go toward serving these meals each day.
The El Paso Community Foundation has created a new partnership with Get Shift Done to hire hospitality workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. These workers will be provided $10 an hour to work shifts for the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, which distributes meals to over 130 pantries, churches, and shelters in the area. Restaurant workers can be registered for the Get Shift Done initiative through the app or by emailing Mario Porras at [email protected] Donations to the Get Shift Done for El Paso Fund go directly toward the wages of these workers.
In addition to its location in Houston, Seconds Servings is working with Galveston Restaurant Association to open another location for drive-through meal distribution in Galveston. The location will provide 1,200 meals to unemployed hospitality workers every Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of Mario’s Seawall Italian Restaurant at 628 Seawall Boulevard. This information can also be found here on Eater.com, which has been consistently publishing information about how restaurants have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Spanish restaurants BCN Taste and Tradition and MAD have launched the Curbside Community Kitchen as a way to offer Houston’s out-of-work hospitality industry workers a free meal. For the time being, two hundred complimentary meals will be handed out from the MAD location from 5 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday.
This volunteer effort has been organized by sommelier Cat Nguyen, publicist Jonathan Beitler, and event organizer Claudia Solis. (Each were also instrumental in galvanizing restaurant resources to feed people displaced by Hurricane Harvey.) Houston Shift Meal offers daily options for unemployed restaurant workers. Through generous corporate and individual donations, the organization gives restaurants $250 in exchange for fifty meals that will be given away. To date, participating restaurants have included Backstreet Cafe, Hugo’s, Rudyard’s, and Cherry Block. In addition, Goodnight Hospitality is distributing boxes of raw ingredients sourced from the company’s Good Thyme Farm. Those interested in obtaining a free meal can follow Houston Shift Meal’s Facebook page. Those wishing to make a donation or who would like to become a restaurant partner can visit the Houston Shift Meal website.
A newly forged partnership between Maker’s Mark and chef Edward Lee, this relief response for workers who have been laid off includes free dinners for those affected throughout specific cities in the country, including Houston. Partner restaurant Riel serves as the sole Texas-based Lee Initiative location at which out-of-work hospitality workers may pick up free to-go dinners as well as other essentials such as fresh produce, toilet paper, and diapers. The program is funded by both of its founding partners, but is also taking donations to help grow the program.
Second Servings is a Houston-based nonprofit food-rescue organization founded in 2015. Through its new “Dinner’s on Us” program, it has partnered with independent petroleum company the Hess Corporation to provide 10,000 meals a week to laid-off hospitality workers. Purchased at a discount from the Sysco food distribution company, the food (such as chicken and biscuits, red beans and rice, and penne with sausage) is cooked and frozen in Hess’s professional kitchen. As of April 9, the eight-meal family boxes will be distributed from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as long as funding allows. The drive-through pickup site is the LAM parking lot at 702 Avenida de las Americas. To qualify for a box, applicants must present a recent pay stub showing their employer’s name (such as restaurant or bar, hotel, caterer, banquet venue, sports venue, or convention center).
Nonprofit organization Culinaria has launched a relief fund campaign to raise money for restaurant and bar employees who have lost jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group is taking donations on its website and is working with local chefs such as Jason Dady to distribute free meals to industry staff. (See our interview with Dady here.) Dady’s Alamo BBQ Co. restaurant at 511 E. Grayson has been temporarily renamed “HospitALLity House” and is serving free dinners Monday through Saturday from 4 to 7 using funds raised by the Culinaria Emergency Relief Fund. Sweet Paris Crêperie and Café is also distributing meals.